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Tompkins v. Cyr

United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
995 F. Supp. 664 (1998)


Facts

Dr. Norman Tompkins (plaintiff) was a doctor who performed abortions. Thomas Cyr and others (defendants) opposed abortions. Cyr asked Tompkins to stop performing abortions, and when Tompkins refused, Cyr organized a coordinated attack in an attempt to convince Tompkins to stop the practice. Cyr organized eight protests and marches at Tompkins’s house. Protesters used bullhorns to shout their messages. Cyr also organized surveillance of Tompkins’s home, which consisted of certain defendants parking their cars outside of the house and watching the activities that went on inside. Cyr and others often followed Tompkins when he left his house. One of the defendants repeatedly made harassing phone calls to the Tompkins house. These activities continued for 10 months. Tompkins and his wife brought suit against the defendants for invasion of privacy by intrusion on their solitude, among other claims. The trial court instructed the jury that it could award damages based on the defendants’ conduct, but not on the content of their speech. The jury awarded Tompkins $8.5 million, including $2.8 million for invasion of privacy. Cyr moved for judgment as a matter of law on the invasion of privacy claim. Cyr argued, among other things, that awarding damages to Tompkins would violate his freedom of speech.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kaplan, J.)

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