Oct 102010
 
 October 10, 2010  Breaches, Business, Court, Featured News

Here’s another example of where a privacy violation can cause emotional harm and distress.  What a court will do with this, I have no idea, but see what you think. Ameet Sachdev reports:

Dayanara Fernandez of Los Angeles says that when she walked into her room at the Hyatt in Deerfield this summer, she was alarmed to discover a strange man wearing some of her clothes, according to a complaint filed with the Deerfield police.

Specifically, the man had on one of her skirts and a pair of her high-heel shoes, along with a Hyatt shirt, according to a lawsuit Fernandez filed Monday. He didn’t close the bathroom door entirely and Fernandez noticed that the man also was wearing her underwear, the suit says.

After changing his clothes, the man handed her various items of clothing, including several pairs of her underwear, according to the suit, filed in Los Angeles County Court.

Fernandez, 36, notified hotel management, who called police. The man was charged with disorderly conduct and later pleaded guilty to the charge and was assessed a fine and court costs totaling $187, according to Lake County court records.

A redacted copy of the police report can be seen on The Smoking Gun. Fernandez also sued the hotel chain:

Fernandez sued the Chicago-based hotel chain for negligence of hiring, supervision and/or training; invasion of privacy; and emotional distress. Her lawyer, Stephanie Sperber, said she tried to resolve Fernandez’s claim without going to court. But she said Hyatt was unwilling to acknowledge her client’s emotional distress.

A copy of the lawsuit was posted on The Smoking Gun.

Because courts have routinely held that hotel guests do have a reasonable expectation of privacy, that shouldn’t be an issue, but  there are other  issues.  Giving her money to go replaced the clothes she tossed out after the incident is not really the bigger issue, right?

What do you think should happen in this case if we lived in a country that took privacy seriously?  What do you think will happen?

Over on Lowering the Bar, Kevin Underhill doesn’t sound particularly sympathetic, but I must admit that I’m not sure  if he’s not sympathetic to the hotel guest, the hotel, consultants, or all of the above:

Fernandez’s attorney was quoted as saying that she had tried to settle the claim, but that Hyatt was unwilling to acknowledge her client’s emotional distress. The complaint alleges claims for emotional distress; invasion of privacy; and negligent hiring, supervision and/or training, a claim that I suppose means this case could set a precedent requiring hotel chains to train their employees not to wear guests’ underpants.

I’m sure that, somewhere, a consultant stands ready to advise them as to just how they might do that.

Via @lods1211

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