Invasion of privacy is the unjustifiable intrusion into the personal life of another without consent. There are four common types: Appropriation of Name or Likeness; Intrusion Upon Seclusion; False Light; and Public Disclosure of Private Facts.
North Carolina courts take a limited view of these torts. In Renwick v. News & Observer Pub. Co., a college dean alleged that an editorial published by the newspapers constituted libel per se and was an invasion of privacy. The editorial claimed that the dean said 800 minority student applicants were denied admission to UNC over a certain period. In fact, the number was 36 and the dean never made the exaggerated claim. The trial court granted the newspapers’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted but the court of appeals reversed. The supreme court noted that there were three classes of libel recognized in North Carolina and that only one of those classes, libel per se, was potentially applicable to this case. The supreme court determined that the editorial was reasonably susceptible of a defamatory meaning but that it was also susceptible of a nondefamatory interpretation. As a result, the supreme court found that the editorial was not libelous per se. The supreme court discussed the tort of invasion of privacy and specifically refused to expand the tort of invasion of privacy within North Carolina to include “false light” invasions of privacy. Instead, the court concluded that any action in such a situation had to be through an action for libel or slander. Renwick v. News & Observer Pub. Co., 310 N.C. 312, 313, 312 S.E.2d 405, 406, 1984 N.C. LEXIS 1576, *1, 57 A.L.R.4th 1, 10 Media L. Rep. 1443
States vary on whether they recognize these causes of action. North Carolina aligns with states where there is no discrete claim for invasion of privacy. You should be sure to check your state’s laws or consult with a lawyer before bringing legal action.