Appeals from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1971, No. 743, in case of Charles Vogel, Jr., Ruth L. Smith, on behalf of themselves, and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. W. T. Grant Company.
Peter D. Jacobson, with him R. Stanton Wettick, Jr., Stanley Weinberg, and Neighborhood Legal Services, for appellants at No. 104.
Emil E. Narick, with him Anderson, Moreland and Bush, for appellant at No. 105.
Emil E. Narick and Anderson, Moreland & Bush, for appellee at No. 104.
Peter D. Jacobson, Stanley Weinberg, and R. Stanton Wettick, Jr., for appellees at No. 105.
Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Chief Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Manderino.
Since 1890 when Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis published their famous article The Right to Privacy,*fn1 violation of this right has been steadily accepted as an actionable tort.*fn2 In Pennsylvania the development of a cause of action for invasion of privacy has been somewhat sporadic. See Bennett v. Norban, 396 Pa. 94, 98-100, 151 A.2d 476, 478-79 (1959) (alternate holding); Schnabel v. Meredith, 378 Pa. 609, 107 A.2d
(1954); Waring v. WDAS Broadcasting, Inc., 327 Pa. 433, 456, 194 A. 631, 642 (1937) (Maxey, J., concurring); Aquino v. Bulletin Co., 190 Pa. Superior Ct. 528, 154 A.2d 422 (1959); Hull v. Curtis Publishing Co., 182 Pa. Superior Ct. 86, 125 A.2d 644 (1956). Nevertheless, the existence of the right in this Commonwealth is now firmly established, Bennett v. Norban, supra at 98-100, 151 A.2d at 478-79, Aquino v. Bulletin Co., supra, despite the fact that its perimeter is not yet clearly delineated.
Appellees Vogel and Smith, alleging that their respective rights to privacy had been breached, brought a trespass action against appellant W. T. Grant Company on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated.*fn3 Vogel and Smith are credit customers of Grant whose accounts have not been kept up to date. They alleged that Grant, in order to coerce payment, has by contacting third parties engaged in a systematic program of harassment.
This "program," according to appellees, violated their right to privacy. The ...