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Scheetz v. The Morning Call, Inc.

946 F.2d 202 (1991)

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Scheetz v. The Morning Call, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

946 F.2d 202 (1991)

Facts

Kenneth Scheetz (plaintiff) was a police officer for the Allentown Police Department. One day, Rosann Scheetz (plaintiff), Kenneth’s wife, called the police and later drove to the police station, alleging that Kenneth had hit her. A responding police officer filled out a standard incident report detailing the allegations. This incident report was a public document under the police department’s policy. The police also filled out three supplemental reports that contained details about the incident, past abuse, and the couple’s marital-counseling history. Terry Mutchler (defendant), a reporter for the Morning Call, Inc. (the Call) (defendant), sought to obtain a copy of the police report. The police department refused to release the report, but Mutchler ultimately got a copy of it, including the supplements. Mutchler wrote an article in the Call disclosing details from the police report and supplements. The article was published about 16 months after the incident. The Scheetzes sued Mutchler, the Call, and “John or Jane Doe” (defendant), the alleged unknown state employee who had disclosed the police report to Mutchler, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Scheetzes alleged that the defendants had conspired to violate their constitutional right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court ruled in the defendants’ favor. The Scheetzes appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Nygaard, J.)

Dissent (Mansmann, J.)

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