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Melvin v. Reid

112 Cal. App. 285 (1931)

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Melvin v. Reid

California Court of Appeals

112 Cal. App. 285 (1931)

Facts

Gabrielle Darley Melvin (plaintiff) was a woman who, before getting married, led an unfavorable life as a prostitute. Melvin was tried and acquitted for murder, and the unfavorable incidents of her earlier life were therefore included within the records from the murder trial, which were available to the public. In 1918, Melvin began to turn her life around, and she subsequently got married and became a respectable member of society. In 1925, Dorothy Davenport Reid and others (collectively, Reid) (defendants), produced and exhibited a film for profit entitled The Red Kimono (the movie), which was a true story based on the unfavorable events of Melvin’s earlier life. The main character of the movie was named Gabrielle Darley, which was Melvin’s maiden name before her marriage. Melvin filed suit, claiming that the movie violated Melvin’s right to privacy and caused harm to Melvin’s reputation and mental and physical well-being. The trial court dismissed Melvin’s complaint for failure to state a claim because California had no recognized statutory or common-law cause of action for invasion of privacy. Melvin appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Marks, J.)

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