Court upholds verdict on behalf of woman whose e-mail was spied upon
Fay Latture, the Superintendent of Schools in Clio, sued two parents and a third-party after they installed Spyware on her school computer and read over 9,000 e-mails. They also stole her garbage and rummaged throught it on two occasions. The Defendants had been frequent vocal critics of Latture and enlisted the support of another school employee in gaining access to Latture's computer. Over several months, the defendants disclosed confidential content, disseminated private correspondence, and deleted incoming messages before they were caught and prosecuted.
Latture sued them for invasion of privacy and secured a verdict in the amount of $275,000.00. The Defendants filed a frivolous appeal, arguing that Latture had no legitimate expectation of privacy on the school computer network and that their activity was protected by the First Amendment's freedom of speech. The Court pointed out that Latture's e-mail was accessible only by password and contained various forms of private, confidential information, including attorney-client privileged information, physician-patient information and confidential student information.
The Court also concluded that the Defendants' conduct was "outrageous" in that it was "so reckless that any reasonable person would know emotional distress would result." It confirmed that Latture's causation evidence was adequate to support her claim that the Defendants' invasion of her privacy caused her emotional harm.