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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. Desnick (plaintiff) operated an extensive network of ophthalmic clinics. American Broadcasting Co., Inc. (ABC) (defendant) contacted Desnick and told him it would like to do a broadcast program about the clinics’ cataract services. Desnick 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 Desnick’s knowledge, however, ABC brought in hidden cameras and conducted interviews of Desnick’s staff while posing as fake patients. When the story aired on ABC, it was extremely negative and suggested Desnick tricked people into having eye surgery and performed unnecessary surgeries. The broadcast predominantly featured people who were dissatisfied with Desnick’s business. Desnick brought suit against ABC for both the effect of its broadcast and the way in which it gathered information. Desnick alleged ABC committed trespass by entering onto its premises without consent and used electronic surveillance in violation of state and federal statutes. Finally, Desnick 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. Desnick asserted claims for damages, trespass, invasion of privacy, and illegal wiretapping. The lower court upheld some of Desnick’s claims and rejected others, and Desnick appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Posner, C.J.)
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