§39.7 False Light Invasion of Privacy – Limitation of Action
The Case: West v. Media General Convergence, Inc. , 53 S.W. 3d 640 (Tenn. 2001).
The Basic Facts: Plaintiffs operated a private probation services business, and were referred this business by the general sessions courts in Hamilton County. Plaintiffs claimed that WDEF-TV defamed them by broadcasting false statements that the plaintiffs' business is illegal. Plaintiff West, in particular, claimed that the defendant invaded her privacy by implying that she had a sexual relationship with one of the general session judges; and that the general sessions judges and the plaintiffs otherwise had a "cozy," and hence improper, relationship. The opinion in this case recognizes the tort of false light invasion of privacy.
The Bottom Line:
- "[W]e recognize that application of different statutes of limitation for false light and defamation cases could undermine the effectiveness of limitations on defamation claims. Therefore, we hold that false light claims are subject to the statutes of limitation that apply to libel and slander, as stated in Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 28-3-103 and 28-3-104(a)(1), depending on the form of the publicity, whether in spoken or fixed form." 53 S.W. 3d at 648.
Recent Cases: Daniel v. Taylor , No. E2008-01248-COA-R3-CV, 2009 WL 774428 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 25, 2009) (discussing limitation period applicable to false light claims and affirming dismissal of false light claim finding statute of limitations expired).