Torts – Privacy – Collection Method

Plaintiff disputed the debt which the defendant corporation asserted against her. Defendant made no attempt to recover this asserted debt by legal action but instead sent a letter to the personnel director of plaintiff’s employer. This letter stated that plaintiff had refused to cooperate in reaching an amicable settlement and requested the assistance of the personnel director in collecting this “honest debt.” Plaintiff was then summoned to the office of her superior and informed that the letter would be placed in her file and remain there until the asserted indebtedness had been settled. Plaintiff sought damages for an invasion of privacy, alleging the above facts. Defendant’s demurrers were overruled by the trial court. The Court of Appeals of Georgia approved this action, holding that such a communication by a creditor to the employer of a debtor concerning a disputed debt constituted an actionable invasion of privacy. On appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, held, reversed. Since this communication was directed to the debtor’s employer, which has a natural and proper interest in its employees’ debts, it was a reasonable and necessary method of collection by the creditor, and hence not an unwarranted interference with the debtor’s right of privacy. Gouldman-Tabor Pontiac, Inc. v. Zerbst, (Ga. 1957) 100 S.E. (2d) 881.