• April 20, 2010

The proliferation of information through the internet has huge societal implications for privacy and reputation, which have been playing out for a decade and will continue.  (Cyber-bullying is a related phenomenon.) The law, of course, has recognized citizens’ interests in both privacy and reputation for years but how will recent social and technological changes affect this area of the law? (Minnesota’s seminal case in this area of the law is here.)

The place of privacy and reputation in our society in years to come is of interest to Minnesota Litigator so a recent U.S. District Court defamation claim gets a attention though unrelated to the internet.

Twin Cities Super Lawyer, Karim El-Ghazzawy, is a connoisseur of expensive watches.  He buys and sells them.  Having done so repeatedly at a Twin Cities pawn-shop provoked a somewhat hasty conclusion that he was trying to sell knock-offs, which, in turn, resulted in his arrest and handcuffing.  The watches were the real deal.  So are El-Ghazzawy’s claims against Officer Kay Berthiaume, of the Bloomington Police, David Wisniewski of Pawn America of Minnesota, LLC, and Pawn America.  In a thoughtful and careful 26-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle, Sr. (D. Minn.) has denied motions for summary judgment by defendants.  In a nutshell, the Court held that the treatment of El-Ghazzawy, by both the police officer and by Pawn America, was simply too rash, unjustified, and significant to give the defendants defenses of “qualified immunity” or “official immunity,” that is, safe harbors for good faith executions of ones duties either as a police officer or a member of the public reporting suspected criminal activity.

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