Torts Keyed to Prosser
Joe Dickerson & Associates, LLC v. Dittmar
Defendant Joe Dickerson & Associates LLC (and individually Joe Dickerson) was hired to investigate Plaintiff Dittmar during a custody dispute. During the course of his investigation, Defendant noticed impropriety related to Plaintiff’s bearer bonds, so he reported the same to the authorities and Plaintiff was convicted of felony theft of the bonds. Defendant published a newsletter called “The Dickerson Report” which was sent to various law enforcement agencies and law firms containing articles about fraud investigations, tips for avoiding fraud, information about upcoming conferences, etc. In a certain article, Defendant discussed Plaintiff’s case as one where 100% recovery of the value of the stolen assets was obtained. The article mentioned Plaintiff by name and included her photograph in the article on the front page of the newsletter. Plaintiff sued Defendant on various theories, including invasion of privacy by appropriation of another’s name or likeness, as well as defamation and outrageous conduct. The trial court granted summary judgment to Defendant on all claims, and rejected the appropriation claim because Colorado did not explicitly recognize the claim, and even assuming that it was recognized, no evidence was provided that Plaintiff’s name or likeness had any value. The court of appeals affirmed that the plaintiff must prove her likeness had value to prevail on the appropriation claim.
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