This appeal involves four consolidated law suits brought by employees of tenants and members of their families, including minors, against the landlord and managers of this commercial office building, as well as a number of other companies responsible for installing and maintaining video monitoring and recording equipment intentionally concealed inside smoke detectors in four public bathrooms, two male and two female. Plaintiffs allege intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, common law invasion of privacy, and invasion of privacy under N.J.S.A. 2C:58D-1(b). They seek common law compensatory damages, punitive damages under the Punitive Damages Act, and statutory damages under N.J.S.A. 2C:58D-1(c).
The Law Division granted defendants' motions for summary judgment and dismissed plaintiffs' cause of action as a matter of law. We reverse the Law Division's order dismissing the counts in their complaints grounded on invasion of privacy. As a threshold issue, plaintiffs must show defendants' actions to clandestinely monitor their activities in a gender-restricted bathroom is subject to liability because it is the type of intrusion that a reasonable person would find to be highly offensive.
Consistent with the approach endorsed by the Supreme
Court in Rumbauskas v. Cantor, 138 N.J. 173 (1995), we also hold that a plaintiff in a cause of action predicated on the tort of invasion of privacy, grounded in the subcategory of "invasion of intrusion on the plaintiff's physical solitude or seclusion," which includes the
characteristics of unconsented prying, may recover compensatory damages for "personal hardships," similar in kind and scope to those codified in N.J.S.A. 10:5-3, if plaintiffs can show a causal link between defendants' intrusion and these "personal hardships." 10-17-13