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Hernandez v. Hillsides, Inc.

Supreme Court of California
211 P.3d 1063 (Cal. 2009)


Facts

Hillsides, Inc. and Hillsides Children Center, Inc. (Hillsides) (defendants) operated a nonprofit home for neglected and abused children. Abigail Hernandez and Maria-Jose Lopez (plaintiffs) were employed at Hillsides as clerical staff. The plaintiffs shared an office, in which each plaintiff had her own computer workstation. The office door could be closed and locked, and the windows in the office had blinds. The plaintiffs sometimes used the office to change or adjust their clothing. One day, John Hitchcock (defendant) learned that an unknown person had used Lopez’s computer after working hours to access pornography. This was in violation of company policy and conflicted with Hillsides’s goal of providing a safe space for children. Hitchcock did not suspect the plaintiffs, because the conduct occurred after the plaintiffs had left for the day, and because several people had access to the plaintiffs’ office. Concerned that the children at the nonprofit home might be exposed to pornography, Hitchcock had a hidden camera installed in the plaintiffs’ office. Hitchcock was able to turn the camera on and off remotely and took care to keep the camera turned off during working hours. The plaintiffs were never captured on tape. The plaintiffs discovered the hidden camera and sued Hillsides, arguing that Hillsides had violated their right to privacy based on the tort of intrusion. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The court of appeal reversed. The defendants appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Baxter, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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