Happy Meal — Hold the Consortium: Arkansas Man Sues McDonalds Over Disclosure of Wife’s Nude Photographs

180px-macdonalds_sign_in_times_squarePhillip Sherman has a super-sized problem. He went to a Fayetteville, Arkansas restaurant and left his cell phone on the table with nude pictures of his wife. While he said the store promised to hold the phone for him, the pictures and embarrassing information appears on the Internet. He is now suing McDonalds for $3 million dollars.

Sherman and his wife, Tina, claim they were forced to move house after the Tina’s name, address, and telephone number appeared online, alongside the photos. They are also alleging loss of earnings.

The case turns on allegations of negligence, privacy violations, and bailments. If employees accessed the cell phone to determine who was the owner, they would still not be privileged to post the photographs. The act would constitute a violation of the tort of the public disclosure of private facts as well as intrusion upon seclusion. Of course, in any negligence action, there is contributory negligence by the husband. If you object to people looking at your golden arches, you should not be cavalier with the photos. However, if the employees had to access the photos from an internal file (one would hope that this was not his wallpaper selection for the phone), it does raise some interesting questions.

McDonalds itself would not appear responsible for the actions of a rogue employee. However, the failure to secure the phone may raise a legitimate question of negligence. Stores usually post signs that they are not responsible for left or lost items. McDonalds can claim that these phones have the same legal status as trash.

Yet, if they told Sherman that they would hold the phone for him, there is some type of gratuitous bailment formed. Under the common law, a gratuitous bailment (for the benefit of only the bailor) requires only a duty of slight care. However, even that standard might be difficult to meet if the McDonald’s employees were able to pass around the internal pictures before the item was retrieved.

There also remains the question of causation. Sherman will have to prove that the photos must have come from McDonalds. He clearly does not appear particularly careful with the nude pictures of his wife and McDonalds may challenge factual causation.

As for Sherman, the need to have nude pictures of one’s wife at the ready may be a call for intervention like ordering comdoments with the Happy Meal — it may show a bit too much of an obsession. I suggest that he download my happy goat picture and such things will not happen in the future.

For the full story, click here.

5 thoughts on “Happy Meal — Hold the Consortium: Arkansas Man Sues McDonalds Over Disclosure of Wife’s Nude Photographs”

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  2. Hey, if you don’t want such pictures floating around, then don’t take them! I don’t believe that the employees would flip through the pictures. No one cares what type of pictures you take with your camera phone.

    I wonder if any of those kids were minors that may have snuck a peek at them?? Maybe this couple should be charged with distributing pornographic images to minors!

    I don’t see how McDonald’s is responsible for this couple’s stupidity. I hope this lawsuit is tossed out with yesterday’s leftover Big Macs!

  3. Given that some people file frequent and often frivolous lawsuits against high profile, deep-pocket companies such as MD, this might be a deliberate *setup*.

    In addition, realizing the crazy cultural world within which we reside, if the ‘gent’ and his wife were voyeurs, a setup like this could satisfy 2 common desires.

    The blog article was hilariously witty and I wonder about some words that might have been “somewhat misspelled”… Regardless, thanks for the levity.

    I am a vegetarian, so I am pleased I never need to enter beneath the ‘arbor’ of the “Golden Arches” because this story would likely re-enter my mind repeatedly.

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