Stien v. Marriot Ownership Resorts, Inc.

944 P.2d 374 (1997)

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Stien v. Marriot Ownership Resorts, Inc.

Utah Court of Appeals
944 P.2d 374 (1997)

Facts

Marriott Ownership Resorts, Inc. (Marriott) (defendant) filmed 17 employees who were asked to describe a household duty they loathed performing, and Marriott created a video using the responses. An edited version of this video was shown for entertainment at Marriott’s Christmas party, which was attended by around 200 employees and their companions. The video did not use the names, give the titles, or list the duties of any of the employees. Unbeknownst to the employees who participated in the video, including Brad Bauman, Marriott edited the video in a manner that suggested the employees were describing their feelings about having sex with their partners. The edited video, which began with natural scenery, classical music, and the question regarding the employees’ sex lives as a caption, also had a woman’s voice that stated that the employees had been asked about sex with their significant others and invited the viewers to hear the employees’ responses. The video then showed the employees various answers, such as that of one man who indicated he hated performing because of how much time and effort it involved and that of a woman who indicated it was just a greasy thing she had to perform at least yearly. Bauman spoke about a bad smell, needing goggles, and his wife coming home and discovering the smell. Bauman and his wife, Cassedy Stien, did not find the video funny. Bauman and Stien sued Marriott for four torts related to invasion of privacy, including appropriation of Stien’s name and likeness, even though Stien’s name and likeness were not used. A trial court granted Marriott’s motion for summary judgment on all four torts. Stien appealed, arguing that the trial court was wrong to rule that the facts were insufficient to establish a claim for appropriation of Stien’s name or likeness. Stien argued that although her name and likeness were not used, anyone who saw her husband, Bauman, on the video would instantly know that Bauman was supposedly speaking about his sex life with Stien, his wife. Stien argued that she was identified, by reference, as the wife of Bauman, and that Marriott had used her identity for its own entertainment reasons.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Orme, J.)

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