It is not clear whether Arizona recognizes a claim for publication of private facts. Although the Court of Appeals of Arizona discussed possible elements of a publication of private facts claim in Rutledge v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 715 P.2d 1243 (Ariz. App. 1986), the Court noted that Arizona precedent regarding the existence of such a claim was not settled. Id. at 1246 n. 3; see also Cluff v. Farmers Ins. Exchange, 460 P.2d 666, 669 (Ariz. App. 1969) (noting that Arizona "possibly" recognizes a claim for publication of private facts).
Elements of a Private Facts Claim
The only Arizona Supreme Court case to discuss the elements of a private facts claim indicated that "[a] person who unreasonably and seriously interferes with another's interest in not having his affairs known to others" might be held liable for invasion of privacy. Reed v. Real Detective Pub. Co., 162 P.2d 133, 137 (Ariz. 1945). However, at least one court has indicated that this description of the claim is outdated. Rutledge, 715 P.2d at 1246 n.3. If Arizona were to recognize a claim for publication of private facts, the Arizona Supreme Court would likely follow the generally accepted elements for a such a claim.
The Arizona Supreme Court has recognized that privacy rights are absent or limited “in connection with the life of a person in whom the public has a rightful interest, [or] where the information would be of public benefit.” Accordingly, the Court has held in a related context that public servants have no right to privacy concerning the performance of their public lives or duties. Godbehere v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 783 P.2d 781, 789 (Ariz. 1989) (claim for false light invasion of privacy).
Relying on Public Records
The Arizona Supreme Court has not addressed the question of whether liability for publication of private facts may be imposed for dissemination of information in the public record. However, in the context of a claim for false light invasion of privacy, at least one Arizona court has recognized a privilege against liability for reporting information from the public record as long as the report is a fair and accurate abridgment of the records used. Sallomi v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 771 P.2d 469, 472 (Ariz. App. 1989).
The Arizona Supreme Court has not specifically addressed the question of whether the consent of the person whose information is published is a defense to a private facts claim. The Court has, however, recognized in another privacy-related context that that consent is a defense, and also that a plaintiff who has become a “public character” may be found to have waived his privacy rights. Reed v. Real Detective Pub. Co., 162 P.2d 133, 138 (Ariz. 1945). It is not clear if a "public character" is the same as a "public figure" for the purposes of defamation law (scroll down).
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for any privacy claim in Arizona is 2 years. A.R.S. § 12-542.