Invasion of Privacy

  1. Introduction

    Wisconsin has codified the traditional common law torts in Wis. Stat. § 995.50(2). The definitions are similar, although not identical, to traditional common law torts as expressed in, e.g., Restatement (Second) of Torts § 652. Therefore, case law from other jurisdictions discussing common law torts may be helpful, as Wisconsin case law is not extensive.

  2. Text of the Statute(s)

    Wis. Stat. § 995.50(2)

    (1) The right of privacy is recognized in this state. One whose privacy is unreasonably invaded is entitled to the following relief:

    (a) Equitable relief to prevent and restrain such invasion, excluding prior restraint against constitutionally protected communication privately and through the public media;

    (b) Compensatory damages based either on plaintiff's loss or defendant's unjust enrichment; and

    (c) A reasonable amount for attorney fees

    (2) In this section, “invasion of privacy” means any of the following:

    (a) Intrusion upon the privacy of another of a nature highly offensive to a reasonable person, in a place that a reasonable person would consider private or in a manner which is actionable for trespass.

    (b) The use, for advertising purposes or for purposes of trade, of the name, portrait or picture of any living person, without having first obtained the written consent of the person or, if the person is a minor, of his or her parent or guardian.

    (c) Publicity given to a matter concerning the private life of another, of a kind highly offensive to a reasonable person, if the defendant has acted either unreasonably or recklessly as to whether there was a legitimate public interest in the matter involved, or with actual knowledge that none existed. It is not an invasion of privacy to communicate any information available to the public as a matter of public record.

    (d) Conduct that is prohibited under s. 942.09, regardless of whether there has been a criminal action related to the conduct, and regardless of the outcome of the criminal action, if there has been a criminal action related to the conduct.

    (3)The right of privacy recognized in this section shall be interpreted in accordance with the developing common law of privacy, including defenses of absolute and qualified privilege, with due regard for maintaining freedom of communication, privately and through the public media.

    (4)Compensatory damages are not limited to damages for pecuniary loss, but shall not be presumed in the absence of proof.