- Dean Smith
LARGENT V. REED
Another victory on behalf of utilizing social media to prove or disprove claims occurred during the Largent v. Reed civil case in a Pennsylvania court room. The plaintiffs, Keith and Jennifer Largent, claimed suffering from permanent mental and physical injuries sustained during a motorcycle vs. car accident with the defendant, Jessica Reed. Reed had struck a minivan driven by an additional defendant named Sagrario Pena (who is not relevant to this part of the case). Pena’s minivan had been pushed into the Largent’s motorcycle.
But, according to Jennifer Largent’s public Facebook page, she was living a fulfilled life with family and a workout at the gym. Defendant then “moved to compel disclosure of Plaintiff’s Facebook username and password” upon learning this information, and Judge Walsh approved the motion.
Jennifer Largent raised objections including relevancy and discoverability, privacy, Stored Communications Act, and an annoyance, but Judge Walsh dismissed her objections with these reasons:
Electronic evidence is fair game if relevant.
No social media privacy exists. Judge Walsh explained, in his opinion, “only the uninitiated or foolish could believe that Facebook is an online lockbox of secrets.”
Stored Communications Act is only to protect users from the government seeking information from their Internet Service Providers (i.e. Verizon, Comcast, etc.). The plaintiff is not an Internet Service Provider.
It would not be an annoyance because the defendant would be responsible for retrieving the information and, according to the court, “this is one of the least burdensome ways to conduct discovery.”
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