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Can my neighbor place a video camera on a tree pointed into my back yard?

Portland, OR |

While pulling weeds on my fence line I noticed a tiny video camera on my neighbors tree. There is a cable running into their house. The camera is pointed directly into my back yard. I feel violated. These 'neighbors' have been odd since we moved in 5 years ago, accusing us of trespassing when we were on the public right of way, telling us that we could not cut down bushes on our lot, etc. We have tried to improve the situation, even going to mediation (provided by the city police), but they refuse to attend a second session. I'm sure the video is there trying to find us doing something (I don't know what). We are professionals in a nice area of town. Is there anything we can do? I hate to have them taping my every move, and that of my young kids.

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Attorney answers 1


Dear Invaded Portlander,

To prevail on a lawsuit for invasion of privacy, plaintiff must show: (1) an intentional intrusion, physical or otherwise; (2) upon plaintiff's “private affairs or concerns”; and (3) that the intrusion would be offensive to a reasonable person.

Another general statement of the rule follows:

“One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if the intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.”

If your yard is visible to the street, you might have a tough time proving the claim. If it is an area that can be seen from numerous windows, ditto. However, if the tree-cam provides a more intrusive view, then you might have a claim. Even if it does not provide a more intrusive view, you might have a claim. The law is evolving, as is what people think is "reasonable."

It might be important, if you sue, to obtain an order at the time of filing requiring the neighbor to preserve whatever he has taped to show that you were the target, not a molehill in his own yard.

Jeff Merrick, Oregon Trial Attorney 503-665-4234

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