Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The closely watched case of Taus v. Loftis is apparently proceeding to trial, after the California Supreme Court found that plaintiff Nicole Taus presented enough evidence to proceed to trial under a common law theory of intrusion into seclusion. Noted expert witness Elizabeth Loftus, who testifies regularly in "false memory" cases, is one of the defendants here.
In this particular case, the plaintiff, Ms. Taus, claims that Dr. Loftus improperly obtained information about Ms. Taus' foster mother, from whom Ms. Taus was estranged, by misrepresenting herself as associated with Ms. Taus' former mental health professional. Dr. Loftus denied that allegation. For many years Ms. Taus had been under the care of a psychiatrist, who had reported on her care in the medical literature. Dr. Loftus had investigated that case and wanted to critique it. Read more about her criticism of Ms. Taus' treatment in a pair of Skeptical Inquirer articles (also mentioned in the opinion) here and here.
"In the present case, Loftus was seeking to obtain from Cantrell, plaintiff's former foster mother, personal information about plaintiff relating both to plaintiff's memory of ostensible sexual abuse to which plaintiff had been subjected as a child by her mother, and to the effect of plaintiff's asserted recovery of that memory on plaintiff's subsequent behavior and emotional well-being — certainly the type of information as to which a person ordinarily would possess a reasonable expectation of privacy. (In this regard, it is relevant to recall that at the time Cantrell agreed to speak to Loftus about these matters, the fact that plaintiff was the “Jane Doe” referred to in Corwin and Olafson's 1997 Child Maltreatment article, or, indeed, the circumstance that plaintiff assertedly had been sexually abused as a child, was not a matter of general or public knowledge.) Furthermore, as revealed by Loftus's declaration, through her questioning of Cantrell, Loftus was able to obtain access to previously undisclosed information concerning plaintiff's alleged promiscuity and drug use following her 1995 session with Corwin — again, the kind of very personal and potentially embarrassing or detrimental information as to which a person ordinarily would possess a reasonable expectation of privacy.