The Law School Authority

Nader v. General Motors Corp. Case Brief

Summary of Nader v. General Motors Corp., 25 N.Y.2d 560 (1970).

Facts: P is an author on automotive safety and wrote book criticizing the safety features of D’s automobiles.  P claims that D’s agents started interviewing his friends asking for personal information about P.  D’s agents made phone calls to P at odd hours.  D’s agents tapped P’s phone and eavesdropped.  P suing for Invasion of Privacy and IIED (this brief only discusses Invasion of Privacy).

Issue:  Whether the following activities invasion of privacy: 1. interviewing friends? 2. Making phone calls at odd hours?  3. Tapping phone?

Holding:  1. No, 2. No. 3. Yes

Rationale:  In order to sustain a cause of action for invasion of privacy, the plaintiff must show that the D’s conduct was truly intrusive and that it was designed to elicit information which would not be available through normal inquiry or observation.  Mere observance of P in public place does not establish invasion of privacy.  Mere asking of friends about P didn’t establish IofP because P had already revealed those facts to friend.  Also, phone calls might add up to IIED but not invasion of privacy.  But where intrusion on something personal, as phone tapping in this case, then invasion of privacy.

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