SW Legal studies in Business

False Light Invasion of Privacy Could Exist for False Attribution to Website

A former employee was falsely listed as registrant on a website created by a former employer. The website drew scorn and discussion, so the former employee claimed false light invasion of privacy. Missouri appeals court held that this novel claim would go to trial.

Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words

False Light Invasion of Privacy; Actual Malice; Website; Registrant

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Meyerkord worked for Zipatoni, a marketing services company. He was listed as the registrant for Zipatoni’s account with Register.com for the registration of its websites. After Meyerkord left Zipatoni, it registered a new website and listed Meyerkord as registrant. The website, www.alliwantforxmasisapsp.com, was used in a campaign for Sony Play Station Portable (PSP). After the campaign began, consumers and bloggers expressed concerns about the campaign and those associated with it, naming Zipatoni and Meyerkord in their web discussions. Meyerkord sued Zipatoni for false light invasion of privacy because it failed to remove him as registrant for its website account. As a result, he claims, he was publicly attacked as a result of the PSP campaign, thereby damaging his reputation and subjecting him to harassment. The trial court dismissed the suit. Meyerkord appealed.


Vacated and remanded. False light invasion of privacy does not require one to be defamed. It is enough that one is given unreasonable and highly objectionable publicity that attributes to him false characteristics. The person must be put in a false light that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. A reasonable person could also be expected to believe the false statements made about the plaintiff. If there are false statements but they are unimportant, then even if the statements are made intentionally, that is not sufficient to create a tort. Meyerford did not show that Zipatoni acted with actual malice, but rather that his act was negligent for having failed to remove Meyerford as the registrant on the website that drew attention. As this is a matter not tried before in Missouri, the case will go to trial.

Citation Meyerkord v. Zipatoni Co., ---S.W.3d--- (2008 WL 5455718, Ct. App., Mo., 2008)

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