Use of GPS Devices to Track Spouses Okayed by Court


Over the years, divorce attorneys in Pasadena have seen suspicious spouses go to some pretty extreme measures to check up on the whereabouts of their partners. From teddy bear cameras to hidden microphones, husbands and wives who worry their other half is cheating will do just about anything to find out the truth. Now a New Jersey court has ruled that the use of GPS tracking device to follow your husband or wife isn't an invasion of privacy.

The court ruled in the case of Kenneth Villanova, a New Jersey sheriff's officer, who sued the private investigator hired by his ex-wife in 2007. After Villanova successfully stayed under investigator Leonard's radar, the PI recommended his client purchase a GPS tracking device. She took his advice, placed a device in Villanova's glove compartment of his GMC Yukon-Denali, and in less than 3 weeks, Villanova was busted leaving a driveway with a woman who wasn't his wife. Villanova initially sued his wife for invasion of privacy but dropped the suit during the divorce settlement.

He did, however, pursue an invasion of privacy suit with Leonard. His lawsuit claimed the device invaded his privacy and caused him "substantial and permanent emotional distress." Yet appellate judges Joseph Lisa, Jack Sabatino and Carmen Alvarez ruled that Villanova had no right to expect privacy as the GPS device tracked his whereabouts on public streets. In the ruling, Judge Lisa wrote "there is no direct evidence in this record to establish that during the approximately 40 days the GPS was in the ... glove compartment the device captured a movement of plaintiff into a secluded location that was not in public view, and, if so, that such information was passed along by Mrs. Villanova to (Leonard)."

Naturally, Leonard and his team were thrilled with the outcome, as are many private detectives and their attorneys across the country. GPS tracking devices are currently used in everything from child custody cases to background checks and fraud investigations.