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Desnick v. American Broadcasting Co., Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
44 F.3d 1345 (1995)


Dr. J.H. Desnik (plaintiff) operated an extensive network of ophthalmic clinics. American Broadcasting Co., Inc. (ABC) (defendant) contacted Desnik and told him it would like to do a broadcast program about the clinics’ cataract services. Desnik was told by ABC that the presentation would be fair and balanced. Thus, he invited ABC in to observe a cataract surgery in process. Without Desnik’s knowledge, however, ABC brought in hidden cameras and conducted interviews of Desnik’s staff while posing as fake patients. When the story aired on ABC, it was extremely negative and suggested Desnik tricked people into having eye surgery and performed unnecessary surgeries. The broadcast predominantly featured people who were dissatisfied with Desnik’s business. Desnik brought suit against ABC for both the effect of its broadcast and the way in which it gathered information. Desnik alleged ABC committed trespass by entering onto its premises without consent and used electronic surveillance in violation of state and federal statutes. Finally, Desnik alleged ABC committed fraud by gaining access to its office by means of a false promise that it would present a “fair and balanced” picture of the office’s operations and would not use “ambush” interviews or undercover surveillance. Desnik asserted claims for damages, trespass, invasion of privacy, and illegal wiretapping. The lower court upheld some of Desnik’s claims and rejected others, and Desnik appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Posner, C.J.)

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