We all have a basic expectation that the conversations we have in private with our spouses or significant others will remain private. When those conversations are intercepted or recorded and distributed without permission, it can be a very traumatic experience. Many jurisdictions have laws in place that prevent this sort of thing from happening, but a recent Illinois case touches upon the insurance issues that may arise in these scenarios.
In this case, a woman was shopping at a grocery store. As she was reaching for goods on a shelf, a store employee moved some store equipment behind the woman, without informing her. As the woman completed making her selection, she turned and fell over the equipment, suffering extremely serious injuries.
Three years later, a private investigator was hired to follow the woman and her husband around to determine that the extent of the injuries claimed were valid. The private investigator followed the woman around, and recorded conversations that the woman had in her car, at her place of work, as well as videotaping her and her husband when they were out at local stores.
These recordings contained personal conversations that the private investigator disclosed to their employer without the couple’s consent. The husband was not a party to the woman’s injury case, and many of the places where the woman was recorded also had no connection to the case.
When the couple was made aware of the invasion of privacy, they alleged that the private investigators had violated Illinois law regarding eavesdropping. The private investigation company had a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy with $3 million in policy limits. When the private investigation company notified its CGL insurer of the couple’s lawsuit, the insurer claimed that the acts fell outside the scope of the policy and, therefore, the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify the private investigator insured in the suit.
The case is currently pending in Illinois federal court with the insurer asking the court to agree to its interpretation of the CGL policy in place. We will monitor this case, both with respect to what happens and with respect to what the result might mean for others facing similar claims.
If you have questions about insurance coverage or an insurance coverage dispute, please reach out to a member of our team to learn more about the options that are available to you.