Court rejects man's claim to privacy in stolen e-mails
In a somewhat surprising opinion, the Court of Appeals upheld the summary disposition of Jeffrey Orhan's invasion of privacy claim against what was apparently a co-worker and two in-laws. The court held that because Orhan denied engaging in an extra-marital affair, he could not argue a right of privacy in the e-mails that ostensibly established the existence of the affair. The Court concluded that since Orhan denied the truth of the e-mail content, he could not argue either an invasion of privacy or an improper publication of embarassing private information.
The court also held that even if the emails were protected information, since other co-workers enjoyed emergency access to his account password, he had no legitimate expectation of privacy in the email content. Furthermore, the court held, if there was a factual issue about his expectation of privacy in the "Nation's Funding" password, since the co-worker who divulged the private information was not sued directly, he could not link the Defendants to the disclosure, EVEN THOUGH HIS WIFE'S SISTER E-MAILED HER DIVORCE ATTORNEY expressing her "concern" Orhan would "go to the office this weekend and mess with the computers...and explained that she had..."someone who can go in and copy everything, read what's on there..."
The Court also held that it wasn't an abuse of discretion for the lower court judge to deny Orhan the right to join the co-worker as a conspiring defendant, even though she "admitted accessing plaintiff's computer and e-mail account without permission." The only conclusion that we can reach is that the judges determined that Orhan's alleged infidelity warranted whatever sneaky behavior his in-laws could come up with. This kind of decision can create a tough legal standard to apply consistently in meting out justice.