Archive for the ‘Right to Privacy’ Category

Do You Have a Right to Privacy if You Know Your Privacy Will Be Invaded?

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

The California Constitution protects the right to privacy against both government and private intrusion.  To state a cause of action under the constitution, you must demonstrate the existence of a legally protected informational or personal autonomy privacy interest and show that you have a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” 

In Sheehan v. The San Francisco 49ers, Ltd., the panel majority agreed that conducting pat down searches of everyone entering the football stadium did implicate a legally protected interest in personal autonomy.  However, since the Sheehans knew of the pat down policy, the Court ruled they had no reasonable expectation of privacy and that the complaint could be dismissed at the pleading stage.


The interesting twist in this case is that the original complaint alleged violations of privacy rights for searches conducted during the 2005 season.  In order to maintain a live controversy, the parties agreed to amend the complaint to state the same claim for the 2006 season.  The Court ruled that since the Sheehans learned of the searches in 2005, before they purchased the 2006 season tickets, they no longer had a reasonable expectation of privacy that would support a claim under the constitution.  Since the complaint sought only declaratory and injunctive relief, the only relevance of the 2005 searches was to destroy the expectation of privacy for the 2006 season.  This allowed the court to dismiss the Sheehans’ complaint at the pleading stage.