There Must Be Facts Conclusions Wont Do!
April 1, 2007
In a recent case before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, the plaintiff filed an action against an alarm company alleging that the defendant alarm company invaded his privacy by installing “listening devices to the roof of his house,” and that the defendant negligently installed a security system in his home, causing the roof of his home to leak. The defendant alarm company made a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint, alleging the plaintiff failed to substantiate any of his claims with requisite evidence.
The plaintiff contracted with the alarm company for the purchase and installation of a residential security system. The plaintiff alleged that to his surprise, he discovered that the alarm company had additionally installed “electronic listening devices” in his home in an effort to spy on him. He also discovered that the defendant unnecessarily drilled holes into the roof of his home and failed to seal said holes properly, and as a result, his roof began to leak and his home became infested by mold and mildew.
The court pointed out that under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party against whom a motion for summary judgment is made may not merely rest upon his pleadings, but must, by affidavit or other materials provided, inform the court of specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.
With reference to the claim for invasion of privacy, the court found that the plaintiff’s invasion of privacy claim had no merit. In Mississippi, an invasion of privacy claim is cognizable in four specific instances where defendant has either: 1) intentionally intruded on the solitude or seclusion of another, 2) appropriated the identity of another for an impermissible use, 3) disclosed a private fact to the public, or 4) held a person in a false light to the public. To sustain an invasion of privacy claim, plaintiff must show a substantial interference with his seclusion of a kind that would be highly offensive to the ordinary, reasonable man, as the result of conduct to which the reasonable man would strongly object. The court pointed out that the plaintiff failed to meet this burden, finding that the claim is based on bald allegations which cannot withstand summary judgment.
There was no testimony to support this assertion that the mold infestation in his home was caused by the leak in his roof. Therefore the court dismissed plaintiff’s claim for mold-caused property damages.
With reference to the allegation that defendant negligently installed the alarm system in his home by leaving unfilled holes in the roof, there was no expert testimony to support his claim and accordingly, the court dismissed plaintiff’s personal injury and emotional distress claim. Therefore, all of plaintiff’s claims were dismissed with prejudice.