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Doe v. Bernabei & Wachtel, PLLC

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

June 25, 2015

JANE DOE, APPELLANT,
v.
BERNABEI & WACHTEL, PLLC, et al., APPELLEES

Argued March 12, 2015

Page 1263

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CAB-7393-13). (Hon. Maurice A. Ross, Trial Judge).

Eric J. Menhart for appellant.

Laura N. Steel for appellees Bernabei & Wachtel, PLLC, and Lynne Bernabei.

Alan K. Kabat filed a brief for appellee Meixing Ren.

Before THOMPSON and MCLEESE, Associate Judges, and PRYOR, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 1264

Pryor, Senior Judge :

Appellant appeals from the dismissal of a complaint, in multiple counts, relating to a matter which she alleges occurred at her place of employment. In the present action

Page 1265

she asserts an invasion of privacy by a particular named co-employee, the law firm representing the co-employee and other employees in a suit against their employer, and a member of that law firm. The entirety of appellant's case was dismissed in the trial court, and on appeal she assigns error to the dismissal of her claims for public disclosure of private facts, false light, misappropriation, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She does not appeal the dismissal of her claim of intrusion upon seclusion of another. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the dismissal of appellant's claims on the pleadings.

I. Factual and Procedural History

On September 6, 2012, appellant worked as a journalist at the Washington D.C. bureau of her employer.[1] Appellant alleges that her supervisor aggressively moved towards her, " touching her inappropriately," and demanded that she " hug" him, and allow him to lean against her. She asked the supervisor to let her leave, repeating " I need to go now." Appellant was able to record two minutes of this encounter on her iPhone. The record reveals that the video shows the knees and shoes of a person, some movement, and portions of two persons' clothing in close proximity. According to the complaint, appellant and her supervisor spoke Chinese throughout the encounter.

Appellant contacted several other employees at the company, including appellee Meixing Ren, seeking their opinion regarding what action she should take. Several employees, including appellee Ren, agreed to help appellant pursue a claim before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ). Ren asked for a copy of the video, and appellant complied. Appellant retained counsel and filed an EEOC claim, which resulted in a settlement with her employer.

In July of 2013, Ren and other co-employees of appellant filed suit against Phoenix, alleging that they had suffered retaliation for their role in helping appellant. They retained the law firm Bernabei & Wachtel, PLLC (" B& W" ), to represent them, and appellant alleges that Ren subsequently gave B& W a copy of the video. B& W issued ...


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