[Politech] Ohio court rejects privacy lawsuit after SSN was accidentally disclosed to one person [priv]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Wed Oct 05 2005 - 22:50:35 PDT

Shannon M. Clark, Appellant v. Shannon Clark, et al., Appellees

Court of Appeals No. H-05-006


2005 Ohio 5252; 2005 Ohio App. LEXIS 4793

September 30, 2005, Decided

There are two Shannon Clarks: appellant, Shannon M. Clark, resides in 
Norwalk, Ohio, and, until December 2003, worked for appellee Matrix 
Automation. The second Shannon Clark whose acts are material to this 
matter resides in Sandusky, Ohio.

According to appellant's complaint, when she left appellee Matrix 
Automation's employ she elected to "cash out" her company pension plan. 
Matrix contracts with appellee MFS Retirement Services, Inc. ("MFS") to 
administer its pension fund. In her complaint, appellant alleges that 
appellee MFS sent the disbursement check for her pension to the wrong 
Shannon Clark. Appellant alleged that Shannon Clark from Sandusky cashed 
the check and kept the money.

Appellant sued Shannon Clark to recover the money which was rightfully 
hers, seeking a judgment in the amount of $505.41. This portion of the 
suit was later dismissed by appellant.

Slso included in the suit were claims against appellee Matrix Automation 
and appellee MFS. Appellant alleged that each appellee had disclosed 
personal and confidential information concerning her to the other 
Shannon Clark. Specifically, appellant alleged that the check sent to 
the other Shannon Clark contained appellant's social security number. 
Appellant also alleged that when appellee Matrix contacted the Shannon 
Clark from Sandusky, in an attempt to verify her identity, Matrix 
disclosed "personal and confidential" information about her. It is not 
clear from the complaint whether this was again her social security 
number or some other unspecified information.


With respect to these appellees, appellant has attempted to state a 
claim of common law invasion of privacy: specifically, that both 
appellees disclosed private information to the public (the public 
disclosure tort) and unreasonably intruded into her private affairs (the 
unreasonable intrusion tort).


In this matter, the trial court rejected appellant's public disclosure 
claim, concluding that, whatever information was revealed by appellees, 
it was relayed to only one person. Disclosure of private information to 
a single person, "or even to a small group of persons," does not 
constitute publicity and "thus is not an invasion of the right of 
privacy, within the rule."

Like the trial court, we simply cannot fit the facts appellant alleged 
into this cause of action.

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