On appeal from the Superior Court, Law Division, Union County.
Pressler, R.s. Cohen and Muir, Jr. The opinion of the court was delivered by Cohen, R.s., J.A.D.
[266 NJSuper Page 400] Plaintiff's complaint was in two counts. One of them charged defendant with committing civil RICO violations. N.J.S.A. 2C:41-4. That count was properly dismissed for failure to state a cause of action. Because there was nothing alleged in the complaint which involved "racketeering activity" (N.J.S.A. 2C:41-1a) or an
"enterprise" (N.J.S.A. 2C:41-1c), we affirm the dismissal of the RICO count.
The other count charged defendant with invasion of plaintiff's right of privacy. The Judge dismissed that count on the thesis that it was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. N.J.S.A. 2A:14-2. Plaintiff appeals, arguing that the six-year statute of limitations controls. We reverse the dismissal.
The allegations of plaintiff's invasion-of-privacy count are bizarre. Plaintiff and Diana Johnson were both Exxon employees. They "met and became friendly." Johnson then went to work for defendant's business. Defendant "began making romantic advances and overtures to Johnson" while plaintiff "was romantically involved with her." Defendant threatened plaintiff to cease his relationship with Johnson, as defendant "was pressuring her to become engaged to or wed him." Defendant "ordered" Johnson to terminate her relationship with plaintiff. He told her that, if she saw defendant again, he would hire someone to kill both of them. Defendant hired men to follow and observe Johnson and plaintiff.
Johnson left defendant's employ. He continued to pursue her. He put up a two-foot sign on a fence around one of his industrial buildings which said "DIXU Score E-1 J-0." Plaintiff interpreted the legend to mean "Diana I love you. Score Edward-1, John-0." Another sign, about eight feet long, appeared on the same property at another time. It said, "DIXU FU JR." Plaintiff's initials are JR.
Various other forms of threats and harassments were directed at Johnson and, through her, to plaintiff. They threatened Johnson's custody of her daughter, and plaintiff's job, safety, and life. Defendant put plaintiff under surveillance. He sent a letter to plaintiff's home on the letterhead of Sotheby's in New York which referred to a visit there by plaintiff and his "daughter Diana." Such a reference might have puzzled plaintiff's wife, who lived with him and knew he did not have a daughter Diana. Or, it might have been intended to warn plaintiff that defendant meant to reveal plaintiff's affair to plaintiff's wife. State Police investigated
telephoned threats received by plaintiff, and confirmed that defendant was connected with them. When defendant was arrested as a result, the threats ceased. Defendant also tried to pay plaintiff money to terminate his relationship with Johnson.
Plaintiff's complaint summed up:
The aforesaid actions by [defendant] represent an unreasonable intrusion into [plaintiff's] right to live free of [defendant's] interference, threats, surveillance, extortion or duress, and constitute an invasion of [plaintiff's] right to privacy.
The right of privacy, largely unknown or ignored at the common law, was the subject of a noted 1890 law review article. Warren and Brandeis, The Right of Privacy, 4 Harv.L.Rev. 193. The Restatement analyzes invasion of privacy as a ...