Social Media Evidence Admissible in Florida Court Case Against Target
You are most likely already aware that more courts are deeming social media evidence admissible in court, and we now have more proof of that thanks to a recent Florida case featuring a plaintiff involved in a slip and fall at a Target store.
In an article by Tom Paradise, Esq. and Nicolette John, Esq. of PropertyCasualty360.com, they tell us that the attorneys for Target requested that the plaintiff, Maria F. Leon Nucci, produce “private” photographs that she had posted on her Facebook account. These photographs, in conjunction with surveillance evidence, were contrary to the plaintiff’s claim for personal injuries, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.
Of course, the plaintiff objected. But the court ordered the plaintiff to provide the photographs on her cell phone, as well as photographs she had posted on her social media accounts.
The plaintiff appealed the social media postings only, claiming that her Facebook is set to “Private” and that this motion would be invading her privacy according to the Federal Stored Communications Act.
According to Paradise and John, the appellate court replied with:
“The photographs being sought were reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence as they are ‘powerfully relevant to the damage issues in the lawsuit’ and further stated that ‘there is no better portrayal of what an individual’s life was like than those photographs the individual has chosen to share through social media.’”
“The plaintiff’s privacy interest in such posted photographs was minimal, if any. The court stated that ‘before the right to privacy attaches, there must exist a legitimate expectation of privacy’ and that they ‘agree with those cases concluding that, generally, the photographs posted on a social networking site are neither privileged nor protected by any right of privacy, regardless of any privacy settings that the user may have established.’”
“The court held that the expectation that such information shared through social networking websites is private is not a reasonable one. As the Court aptly stated, ‘Facebook itself does not guarantee privacy. By creating a Facebook account, a user acknowledges that her personal information would be shared with others. Indeed, that is the very nature and purpose of these social networking sites else they would cease to exist.’”
Also note that the plaintiff’s appeal regarding the invasion of privacy according to the Stored Communications Act does not come into play for this case, as the act stops the provider, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., from exposing the information. The photographs were requested from the plaintiff who was in complete control of her electronically stored communications.
WIN, WIN, WIN!