More and more each day, a substantial number of people around the world are users of social media networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. These sites have allowed users to interact with one another through email, instant messaging, and to build or maintain business and social relationships. On these sites, users can share pictures, videos and status updates (posts) via a public or private account setting. Generally, a public setting occurs by default when the user establishes an account, but this setting can be changed to a private profile. When a user make use of the privacy settings function, he or she is expecting that the information in which they are sharing will only be viewable to those whom which they have authorized. In other words, they believe that due to this restriction setting, unauthorized people cannot view or obtain access to the information which they have chosen to post or share. However, given the considerable amount of users of social media channels, information shared, and communication which users are supplying on these sites, there has been and will continue to be legal matters affecting civil and criminal lawsuits in this country, including Fort Lauderdale personal injury cases.
A recent decision issued in a personal injury lawsuit demonstrates how social media have impacted civil litigation and will have an affect on Fort Lauderdale personal injury suits, as well as other personal injury cases throughout the country. In Romano v. Steelcase, Inc., 2010 NY Slip Op 20388 [30 Misc 3d 426], 2010 N.Y. Misc. Lexis 4538 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Sept. 21, 2010), the state's Supreme Court granted the defendant’s motion to access the plaintiff’s current and historical Facebook and Myspace pages and contents (including postings and pictures), as well as her deleted pages and content. The plaintiff Kathleen Romano sued the defendant, Steelcase, Inc., a Michigan furniture company in a personal injury suit. Plaintiff claimed that she had suffered severe injuries to her back and neck as a result of a fall from a collapsing chair manufactured by the defendant. Plaintiff sought damages and asserted that she had lost an enjoyment of life; and could no longer participate in certain activities. However, the defendant reviewed the public contents posted on the plaintiff’s Facebook and MySpace pages, and contended that the material contradicted her asserted injuries and claims because she had traveled to Florida and Pennsylvania during the time period she alleged her injuries prohibited such activities.
During her deposition, defendant sought questions from plaintiff about her social networking accounts (Facebook and MySpace), but to no avail and subsequently served plaintiff notice for discovery. Plaintiff refused to provide the requested authorization to obtain access and copies, including current and historical information on her social networking accounts. The Court granted defendant’s motion and plaintiff was ordered to provide defendant within 30 days the consent and authorization to access her Facebook and MySpace accounts information.
If you are currently thinking about hiring a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney to represent you in a personal injury case, you should consult with him or her about any social network content you have posted which may be relevant to your case and to get legal advice about your rights.
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