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Diaz v. Oakland Tribune, Inc.

139 Cal. App. 3d 118, 188 Cal. Rptr. 762 (1983)

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Diaz v. Oakland Tribune, Inc.

Court of Appeals of California

139 Cal. App. 3d 118, 188 Cal. Rptr. 762 (1983)

Facts

In 1975, Toni Diaz (plaintiff) underwent corrective surgery to change her gender from male to female. After the procedure, Diaz appeared, behaved, and was accepted by the public as a woman. Diaz kept the surgery a secret from everyone except her immediate family and closest friends and never sought to publicize her transformation. She changed her name from Antonio to Toni, made the necessary changes to her high school records, social security records, and driver’s license. While serving as student body president of the College of Alameda, Diaz was involved in a controversy with college administrators over the misuse of student funds. While investigating the story, Sidney Jones (defendant), a reporter for the Oakland Tribune (the Tribune) (defendant), was confidentially told about Diaz’s surgery. After confirming Diaz’s former gender via police records for a prior arrest, Jones wrote a story about Diaz’s gender transformation. After reading the article, Diaz was forced to reveal her status, became very depressed and suffered other mental and physical infirmities. Diaz sued the Tribune and Jones for invasion of privacy. Diaz did not allege that any of the published information was untrue. A jury found for Diaz and awarded her $250,000 in compensatory damages and $525,000 in punitive damages ($25,000 against Jones and $500,000 against the Tribune). The Tribune and Jones appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Barry-Deal, J.)

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