Defamation is tarnishing the reputation of someone; it has two varieties, slander and libel. Slander is spoken defamation and libel is printed or broadcast defamation. The two otherwise share the same features: making a factual assertion for which evidence does not exist. Defamation does not affect or hinder the voicing of opinions, but does occupy the same fields as rights to free speech in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, or Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Related to defamation in the U.S. are the actions for misappropriation of publicity, invasion of privacy, and disclosure. Abuse of process and malicious prosecution are often classified as dignitary torts as well.
Elli Lake v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
While on vacation, Lake and Weber, both females, were photographed while both were nude together in the shower. They brought the film to a Minnesota Wal-Mart for processing and were informed that the nude picture was not processed because of the photo's "content." Subsequently, it was learned that the picture was developed by a Wal-Mart employee and was circulating through the local community. An invasion of privacy lawsuit was filed. Wal-Mart filed a motion to dismiss claiming that the complaint failed to state a claim under Minnesota law. The motion to dismiss was allowed, and the decision was upheld by the Minnesota Appeals Court. The Minnesota Supreme Court reviewed the case.
Reversing the lower court's decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided for the first time to recognize the tort of invasion of privacy. The court reasoned that the right to privacy is an integral part of our humanity. The type of privacy interest at issue in this case was one worthy of protection. Minnesota's common law must evolve to reflect contemporary values. Lake alleged a claim that should be recognized as actionable. The motion to dismiss was be denied, and the case continued to trial.