[As amended by order of the Court of Appeals October 18, 1979.]
The defendant City of Seattle appeals a jury verdict awarding plaintiff, a retired police officer, $60,000 on a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, and $10,000 for a claim of invasion of privacy arising out of an investigation of his police disability pension. We reverse and remand.
1. Does the disability board, created under RCW 41.26.110, have authority in performing the function delegated by RCW 41.26.140 to seek objective evidence of claimant's
2. May the disability board, in a semiannual reexamination of the disability retiree, delegate the investigatory duty of seeking evidence to be presented to the board, or must the disability board members act as investigator, prosecutor and judge under the requirement of RCW 41.26.140?
3. Did the court err in instructing that the defendant City of Seattle had the burden of proving that its actions and conduct were not intentionally or recklessly aimed at inflicting severe personal distress?
4. Did the court err in instructing that the defendant City of Seattle had the burden of proof to show that plaintiff waived his constitutional right to privacy?
5. Did the court err in refusing to instruct that the video-taping of the actions of plaintiff would not constitute an invasion of privacy unless the plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy?
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Plaintiff Jeffers is a former City of Seattle police officer who sought and, in February of 1974, was retired for disability because of a neck condition, proved primarily by his subjective complaints. While he was on disability leave and after he retired, he worked as a self-employed electrical contractor. The Police Pension Board asked the police department to conduct an investigation of plaintiff to determine the validity of plaintiff's disability. The investigation included surveillance attempts in public places, conversations with neighbors and business associates to determine the nature of his physical activities, requesting and receiving records of the amount of electrical supplies that he purchased while on limited duty assignment with the police department, and included a video-taping of his activities in installing an electric baseboard heater in the office of the Chief of Police of Issaquah. The plaintiff
On appeal, the City of Seattle contends that (1) the trial judge improperly instructed the jury that the Police Pension Board had no authority to hire outside people, such as the Seattle Police Department, to conduct such an investigation, and (2) the Police Pension Board's jurisdiction was limited to making a determination of continued disability based on medical reports of various doctors only, and that they had no authority to go beyond that. That during the course of the investigation, plaintiff underwent surgery fusing a vertebra of his neck, thereby satisfying the board as to his permanent disability.
ISSUE 1: Disability board has authority to conduct investigations pursuant to RCW 41.26.140.
In deciding the issue relating to the board's investigatory powers, three sections of the act must be considered.
RCW 41.26.110(3) provides:
RCW 41.26.130(5) provides:
RCW 41.26.140(1) provides:
RCW 41.26.140(2) provides:
In summary, these statutory provisions give the disability board powers (1) to perform all acts and deeds under the act (2) to order retired members to take a semiannual medical examination (3) to require a semiannual reexamination of disabled members, and (4) to cancel the retirement benefits in the event the recipient no longer is incapacitated.
In Cansdale, a California Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling of the Board of Administration, Public Employees' Retirement System, canceling a California Highway Patrol officer's disability pension holding that, despite medical evidence in the officer's favor, the board's confirmation of the cancellation of disability retirement was amply supported by the report of a board-appointed orthopedic surgeon, indicating no permanent disability and a full recovery from his injuries, and also by photographs taken by the California Bureau of Investigation of his activities showing that his physical agility was normal. In Cansdale, it is interesting that the almost identical investigatory procedure, as in the subject case, was carried out to determine the retired officer's continued disability and agility.
In Cansdale, under an almost identical statute, the California court approved the consideration of evidence other than the results of medical examinations. See also Harmon v. Board of Retirement, 62 Cal.App.3d 689, 133 Cal.Rptr. 154 (1976), wherein films of a deputy sheriff
We also should note that RCW 41.26.110(1)(a) provides that cities of the first class "shall retain ... existing boards of trustees of the relief and pension fund of the police department as established pursuant to RCW 41.20.010 ..." In other words, the disability board involved in this litigation was not created by RCW 41.26.110. Rather, the then existing board was retained. There is nothing in RCW 41.26.110 which suggests that any of the powers of the then existing board were in any way limited. Rather, they were expanded to include determinations as to the eligibility for benefits pursuant to RCW 41.26.
The disability board has extensive powers granted to them under RCW 41.20.040 and RCW 41.20.100.
These powers certainly allow the disability board to consider evidence other than the result of a medical examination. Carleton v. Board of Police Pension Fund Comm'rs, 115 Wn. 572, 197 P. 925 (1921). In fact, the board must make an independent determination under RCW 41.20, of the continued eligibility of the individual for benefits pursuant to that chapter. This determination is required by RCW 41.26.040(2), for the purpose of the comparison of the
We conclude that RCW 41.26.130, RCW 41.26.140, as well as RCW 41.20.040 and RCW 41.20.100, grant the disability board ample authority to consider evidence other than the result of a medical examination, in determining whether a recipient of a disability benefit continues to be disabled.
ISSUE 2: Disability board has authority to delegate investigation of retirees' disabilities.
In the subject case, the evidence indicated that for several years the board had utilized the services of the personnel office of the Police Department to perform preliminary investigations. In August 1978, the Police Department Personnel Division created the position of illness and injury administrator and on September 5, 1973, the board formally wrote to the Personnel Division:
At this time, plaintiff was working on limited duty. Though the delegation only referred to "disability leave," the testimony was uncontradicted that the board intended and approved Lieutenant Campbell's investigation of disability-retired members, including the plaintiff when he retired in February of 1974. The board's delegation was proper.
(Italics ours.) (The court, quoting herein from the trial judge's memorandum opinion.) Accord, Storey v. Seattle, 124 Wn. 598, 604, 215 P. 514 (1923).
"Ministerial acts" have been specifically held to include gathering, collating, and presenting facts. In Pierce v. Lake Stevens School Dist. 4, 84 Wn.2d 772, 529 P.2d 810 (1974), the court held that a school board may properly delegate to administrative staff, including building principals, the authority to gather information and make recommendations as to which teaching positions should be eliminated:
Pierce v. Lake Stevens School Dist. 4, supra at 783.
3 E. McQuillin, The Law of Municipal Corporations § 12.129 (3d ed. 1973). The statute must be construed reasonably to permit the delegation to the police department of the authority to perform the ministerial acts. We hold that the disability board had authority to hire its own investigative agents or the Seattle Police Department to make investigations for them as to the plaintiff's disability. In any event, the City of Seattle needs no delegation of authority from one of its own agencies to another. The Police Department officers had the right or duty to make reasonable investigations wherever there is suspicion of unlawful activity. The officers need not have probable cause, nor is an investigation invalid because no charge is eventually brought. The court erred as a matter of law in failing to rule that the defendant had authority to conduct a reasonable investigation of plaintiff. Specifically, the court erred in failing to give defendant's requested instruction No. 18, which would have advised the jury on the City's independent authority to make the investigation apart from any delegation. Refusal to give this instruction prevented the defendant from arguing its theory of the case. A party is entitled to have his theory of the case presented to the jury and failure to give a requested instruction which does so is reversible error. Lewis v. Harris, 8 Wn.App. 841, 509 P.2d 396 (1973).
We conclude that court instructions Nos. 15 and 17 pertaining to the disability board's authority and investigatory powers constituted prejudicial error, for the reasons expressed herein. Plaintiff's judgment should be reversed and a new trial ordered.
OTHER ERRONEOUS INSTRUCTIONS SHOULD NOT BE REPEATED ON RETRIAL
ISSUE 3: City does not have burden of proving its actions were not reckless.
ISSUE 4: City does not have burden of proving plaintiff waived his right to privacy.
The court erred in instructing (instruction No. 4) that defendant had the burden of proving that plaintiff waived his right to privacy. Defendant pleaded as an affirmative defense that the plaintiff had waived any cause of action based on his right of privacy. The right of privacy, like any other personal right, may be waived, and such waiver bars any claim for damages. See Almy v. Kvamme, 63 Wn.2d 326, 387 P.2d 372 (1963). In Forster v. Manchester, 410 Pa. 192, 189 A.2d 147 (1963), the plaintiff had been involved in an automobile accident and claimed personal injuries. The other driver's insurance company had hired the defendant, a private investigator, to investigate her activities. In the course of his investigation, the defendant followed the plaintiff in his automobile, kept plaintiff's house under surveillance, and took still pictures of the plaintiff. The plaintiff brought an action for breach of privacy and intentional
Forster v. Manchester, supra at 196-97. The court held that any claim for breach of privacy of intentional infliction of emotional distress was waived as a matter of law. See also Ellenberg v. Pinkerton's, Inc., 130 Ga.App. 254, 202 S.E.2d 701 (1973); Alabama Elec. Coop., Inc. v. Partridge, 284 Ala. 442, 225 So.2d 848 (1969); Tucker v. American Employers' Ins. Co., 171 So.2d 437 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1965).
Also analogous is McLain v. Boise-Cascade Corp., 271 Or. 549, 533 P.2d 343 (1975), where the plaintiff applied for and was granted workmen's compensation benefits. The benefits were subsequently revoked when one of the examining physicians notified the employer of the results of a myelogram, indicating the plaintiff might be "consciously malingering." In McLain, as in the present case, the plaintiff returned to work, complaining he was still experiencing pain. The plaintiff applied for reinstatement of his benefits
The McLain court upheld the trial court's grant of a nonsuit on plaintiff's claim of invasion of privacy, finding defendant's actions did not amount to "unreasonable surveillance" and "highly offensive to a reasonable man."
ISSUE 5: Video-taping proper unless plaintiff had reasonable expectation of privacy.
The trial court also erred in giving instruction No. 12 pertaining to the video-taping of plaintiff's actions in the office of Chief of Police of Issaquah. Such instruction provided:
In Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 19 L.Ed.2d 576, 88 S.Ct. 507 (1967), the Supreme Court established the principle that the right of privacy protects persons, not places. In that case a conviction was obtained using a recording of a conversation in a public telephone booth. The court ruled that the recording was an unreasonable search and seizure prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. The court noted that characterization of the phone booth as either "public" or "private" was not the significant inquiry:
(Footnotes omitted. Italics ours.) Katz v. United States, supra at 351. Katz developed the test of "reasonable expectations of privacy" as the test to be applied to determine whether an individual's constitutional right of privacy has been breached. For example, in United States v. White, 401 U.S. 745, 28 L.Ed.2d 453, 91 S.Ct. 1122 (1971), the court upheld the radio transmission of conversations between the defendant and a government informant. The court noted that Katz was inapplicable because in White the defendant did not have a protectable expectation that his conversations with the informant would not be revealed by the informant. In this the court relied upon Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. 293, 17 L.Ed.2d 374, 87 S.Ct. 408 (1966). The court went on to note that the mere fact of recording and transmission of the conversation did not make an otherwise unprotected conversation suddenly "private."
United States v. White, supra at 752.
(Italics ours.) State v. Jennen, supra at 174.
Briefly, as Prosser points out, a person's protectable interest in privacy in fact incorporates at least four separate and distinct types of interests (intrusion, disclosure, false light and appropriation). Concerning freedom from intrusion, the interest involved in the present action, Prosser states:
(Italics ours.) W. Prosser, The Law of Torts, 808 (4th ed. 1971). Though Prosser and the cases frequently use "public
We conclude that the test of privacy is not whether plaintiff was in a public or private place but rather, whether plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time of the video-taping of his activities in the office of the Chief of Police of Issaquah.
Reverse and remand for new trial in accordance with provisions of this opinion. FARRIS, J. (concurring)
I concur in the result.
JAMES, J., concurs with FARRIS, J.
Reconsideration denied October 25, 1979.
Cansdale v. Board of Administration, supra at 661 n. 2.
"The board shall, in addition to other powers herein granted, have power:
"(1) To compel witnesses to attend and testify before it upon all matters connected with the administration of this chapter, in the same manner as provided by law for the taking of testimony in courts of record in this state, and its president or any member of the board may administer oaths to such witnesses."
RCW 41.20.100 provides:
"Any person retired for disability under this chapter may be summoned before the board herein provided for, at any time thereafter, and shall submit himself thereto for examination as to his fitness for duty, and shall abide the decision and order of said board with reference thereto; and all members of such police force who may be retired under the provisions of this chapter, shall report to the chief of police of such city where so retired on the first Mondays of April, July, October and January of each year; and in cases of emergency, may be assigned to and shall perform such duty as said chief of police may direct, and such persons shall have no claim against such city for payment for such duty so performed."