Jeffrey surreptitiously installed video equipment in the bedroom of the marital home (where Jeffrey may or may not have been living, depending on whom one believed), including a motion sensing optical eye in the headboard of the bed and a camera concealed in an alarm clock. His wife Cathy learned of the activities and sued her husband for invasion of privacy.
The tape that Cathy was able to get her hands on contained nothing of a demeaning nature. She could not prove that Jeffrey shared the results of his taping activities with anyone else.
In the divorce action filed by Jeffrey Cathy was awarded damages ($22,500) for invasion of privacy.
The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed, saying that "Cathy had a reasonable expectation that her activities in the bedroom of the home were private when she was alone in that room. Cathy’s expectation of privacy at such times is not rendered unreasonable by the fact Jeffrey was her spouse at the time in question, or by the fact that Jeffrey may have been living in the dwelling at that time."
The Court also said that "[t]he intentional, intrusive, and wrongful nature of Jeffrey’s conduct is not excused by the fact that the surreptitious taping recorded no scurrilous or compromising behavior. The wrongfulness of the conduct springs not from the specific nature of the recorded activities, but instead from the fact that Cathy’s activities were recorded without her knowledge and consent at a time and place and under circumstances in which she had a reasonable expectation of privacy." The Court also said that the fact that Cathy did not prove that the tape was showed to others did not affect that merits of her claim.
I am confident that the loyal readers of this blog are absolutely overwhelmed with questions about this opinion. And you know, from your years of reading this blog, that I would enjoy nothing more than answering those questions.
But the fact remains that I am a practicing lawyer, that I have a very busy law practice, and I have a wife and three children who are entitled to some portion to my day. So, I will answer the one question – just one – that I know will arise in the minds of my faithful readers: where can I get an alarm clock that contains a hidden camera? Here.
The case is In re the Marriage of Jeffrey E. Tiggs and Cathy J. Tiggs, No. 07-1103 (Iowa 12/19/2008). Read the opinion here.