Case Commentary: Cyberbullying Claims
Cyberbullying has been the subject of a growing number of criminal investigations, and is beginning to form the basis for civil claims as victims seek compensation for psychological injury and emotional distress. Unlike the high burdens of proof required the find someone guilty under criminal laws, a civil plaintiff has a slightly lower standard in order to make her case.
The case of Jane Doe 464533 v. N.D.
This case arose after the plaintiff’s ex-boyfriend posted an intimate video on a pornography website without her knowledge or consent. The video had been provided in confidence during the relationship, with assurances that it would not be shared. Although the video had been removed before the lawsuit was initiated, it had been online and shared for approximately three weeks.
The defendant did not respond and was noted in default, and ordered to pay the plaintiff $100,000 in damages. The full decision can be found here.
The reasons of the trial judge and cyberbullying laws
In granting judgment in favour of the plaintiff, the judge referenced how, “technology has enabled predators and bullies to victimize others,” and that as a society, “we understand the devastating harm that can result from these acts.” Accordingly, civil courts should provide a means of compensation for injury suffered by individuals who are victims of this kind of misconduct.
The judge found that the plaintiff had three reasonable causes of action against the defendant:
Breach of confidence – the defendant had shared information which was intended to be private and personal to the plaintiff. The court recognized that no physical injury is necessary to make out this cause of action, and that emotional or psychological harm is sufficient.
Intentional infliction of mental distress – the defendant’s conduct was flagrant and outrageous, and a clear breach of the plaintiff’s trust. It was foreseeable to any reasonable person that his actions were likely to cause psychological and mental distress to the plaintiff, and his actions were therefore calculated to produce harm. The plaintiff was demonstrably injured by his actions.
Invasion of privacy – the court describes how the public disclosure of private facts may give rise to a cause of action. They find that the defendant gave, “publicity to a matter concerning the privacy life of another,” and was therefore an invasion of privacy. His actions were highly offensive to a reasonable person and of no legitimate public concern.
Compassionate legal advice for victims of cyberbullying
At Derfel Injury Law, we take pride in supporting our clients and providing reliable, trustworthy advice. If you have been the victim of cyberbullying, compensation can help to cover therapy or other expenses, including future treatment.