Monthly Archives: February 2014

Court Cases Involving Social Media: Largent v. Reed v. Pena

February 21st, 2014 by

In Largent v. Reed v. Pena, which involved personal injury claims stemming from an accident between a car and motorcycle, the defense moved to compel the release of the plaintiff’s Facebook username and password, claiming that at a time after the accident the profile was set to public. When viewed publicly, they found relevant photos and posts that could refute her claims of serious and severe injury.

The court held that the plaintiff’s Facebook account was not “privileged” and noted:

“There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in material posted on Facebook. Almost all information on Facebook is shared with third parties, and there is no reasonable privacy expectation in such information. When a user communicates on Facebook, her posts may be shared with strangers. And making a Facebook page ‘private’ does not shield it from discovery … By definition, there can be little privacy on a social networking website … Only the uninitiated or foolish could believe that Facebook is an online lockbox of secrets.”

This text originally appeared in an article by company owner Lyn Mettler in the Indiana Civil Litigation Review.

For  information about efficiently and effectively monitoring plaintiff’s social media accounts to catch public data as soon as it’s posted even if it’s later deleted, contact Lyn Mettler at (317) 721-8660 or lmettler@socialmediainvestigation.com.

Court Cases Involving Social Media: Romano v. Steelcase, 2010

February 18th, 2014 by

In a case out of New York state court, Romano v. Steelcase, 2010, the court granted a motion to compel the plaintiff to provide usernames and passwords for her profiles on Facebook and MySpace.  The plaintiff had sued a furniture company, claiming a defective chair caused her to fall and injure herself.

The court held:

Users would logically lack a legitimate expectation of privacy in materials intended for publication or public posting. They would lose a legitimate expectation of privacy in an e-mail that had already reached its recipient; at this moment, the e-mailer would be analogous to a letter-writer whose expectation of privacy ordinarily terminates upon delivery of the letter.”

“Indeed, as neither Facebook nor MySpace guarantee complete privacy, Plaintiff has no legitimate reasonable expectation of privacy… Since Plaintiff knew that her information may become publicly available, she cannot now claim that she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

This text originally appeared in an article by company owner Lyn Mettler in the Indiana Civil Litigation Review.

For  information about efficiently and effectively monitoring plaintiff’s social media accounts to catch public data as soon as it’s posted even if it’s later deleted, contact Lyn Mettler at (317) 721-8660 or lmettler@socialmediainvestigation.com.

Court Cases Involving Social Media: Winchell v. Lopiccolo, 2012

February 14th, 2014 by

In Winchell v. Lopiccolo, a case in state court in New York, the court found the defense did not meet the “good faith belief” test (which requires a “good faith belief” that the private accounts contain something relevant) and denied a request for access to the plaintiff’s private Facebook profile.

The plaintiff claimed “impaired cognitive functioning” after a motor accident. The defense requested access to her private Facebook profile, contending “the layout of her Facebook page would demonstrate cognitive function inasmuch as the layout of a Facebook page calls for creativity of some sort as well as thought in providing captions for photographs, narrative posts written by the plaintiff as well as her ability to write and comment. Writings on the page would be direct and circumstantial evidence of her claims. Moreover, lucid and logical writing or a lack thereof would be useful in the defense and/or assessment of this case.”

The plaintiff argued that it was “unreasonable to use the contents of her Facebook page as an indicator of her cognitive functioning,” and that there was no precedent for the “unfettered access” the defense was requesting.

The court agreed, stating “[t]he party demanding access to social networking accounts must show that the method of discovery will lead to ‘the disclosure of relevant evidence or is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of information that bears on the claims,’” (citations omitted)… “Defendants cannot point to anything concrete. Instead, they hope to divine the extent of Plaintiff’s cognitive injuries from reading every bit of information on her Facebook page.”

This text originally appeared in an article by company owner Lyn Mettler in the Indiana Civil Litigation Review.

For  information about efficiently and effectively monitoring plaintiff’s social media accounts to catch public data as soon as it’s posted even if it’s later deleted, contact Lyn Mettler at (317) 721-8660 or lmettler@socialmediainvestigation.com.