No Right to Privacy: GPS SOS for Marital BS
Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division: Villanova v. Innovative Investigations
Here’s a question for our times: Can you secretly put a GPS tracking device in the family car to see if your spouse is cheating? Apparently, you can.
Mr. Villanova was a Sheriff’s Officer. He and his wife were going through a contentious divorce. Suspecting her husband of cheating, Mrs. Villanova retained defendant Innovative Investigations to do some snooping. Officer Villanova was quick to realize that he was the target of surveillance and repeated efforts to follow him proved unsuccessful. Innovative finally suggested that Mrs. V purchase and install a GPS device in the family vehicle usually driven by her husband. She did just that, placing the small unit in the glove compartment of their Yukon.
The GPS monitored the Yukon for 40 days, reporting its movements over the internet. Mrs. V turned the reports over to her attorneys, who, one can only suspect, used the info to the wife’s advantage in the divorce proceedings. She did not, however, turn the info over to her investigators. That did not deter Mr. V, who was incensed that he’d been GPSed by the Private Eyes.
He sued Innovative for invasion of privacy.
Innovative moved for summary judgment at the lower level and won. This appeal followed.
Unfortunately for Mr. V, the aye’s have it, and so too do the PIs. The higher court ruled that “this record simply does not establish that any invasion of plaintiff’s right of privacy occurred.” The bottom line: “ ‘A person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his [or her] movements from one place to another.’ ”
GPS may help you out. But it may also find you out.
Talk about being on the road to divorce.