Pearson v. Dodd case brief summary
F: Pearson (D/appellant) -> Newspaper columnist
Dodd (P/appellee) -> Senator
TC has granted partial SJ to Dodd finding liability on a theory of conversion.
But, TC denied partial SJ on the theory of invasion of privacy.
TC ruled that D’s receipt and subsequent use of photocopies of documents which D knew had been removed from P’s filed w/o authorization established P’s liability for conversion.
Two former employees of Dodd entered P’s office w/o authority and unbeknownst to him with the assistance of P’s staff, and removed numerous documents from his files, made copies, replaced the originals, and turned over the copies to the D. D was aware of how the copies had been obtained. Later, D published articles containing information that has been extracted from these documents.
R: In circumstances where employees, without permission of employer, removed documents, made copies, and turned over to the newspaper columnists, 1) the information taken by employees is not the type that law of conversion protects. 2) accordingly, employee is not liable for conversion
A: Documents were removed from the files at night, photocopies, and returned to the files undamaged before office operations resumed in the morning. Insofar as the documents value to appellee resided in their usefulness as records of
the business of his office, P was clearly not substantially deprived of his use of them.
No conversion of the physical contents of P’s files took place, and because the information copies from the documents in those files has not been shown to be property subject to protection by suit for conversion, D is not liable for conversion.
C: affirm denial of SJ for invasion of privacy
Reverse its grant of SJ for conversion