Posted on February 27, 2015 in Personal Injury
A Florida appeals court recently ordered that a plaintiff in a premises liability lawsuit turn over pictures deleted from her Facebook account, alleging that social media users shouldn’t expect the information they post to remain private.
Florida’s Fourth Appellate District concluded that Maria Nucci, who is suing Target Corporation for injuries she sustained during a slip and fall accident “… has but a limited privacy interest, if any, in pictures posted on her social networking sites,” reported Law360.
Nucci was asked to disclose 36 pictures from her Facebook account during a deposition with Target in September 2013.She objected and two days later the photos vanished from her profile. Target requested access to Nucci’s Facebook profile claiming the retailer should be permitted to see the photographs because it would allow them to compare her current physical condition to her condition before the accident. The court originally denied the motion because it was too vague, but later granted Target access to Facebook photos depicting the plaintiff, according to Law360.
The appeals court panel stated the photos are “powerfully” relevant in the case because they will help determine how the plaintiff’s quality of life changed after the accident and establish the exact extent of her alleged injuries.
The panel found that the relevance of the photos overwhelmed Nucci’s “minimal” privacy interest. The court opines that social media postings are neither privileged nor protected by privacy rights, regardless of any privacy settings established by the user.
“Such posted photographs are unlike medical records or communications with one’s attorney, where disclosure is confined to narrow, confidential relationships. Facebook itself does not guarantee privacy,” the panel stated. “By creating a Facebook account, a user acknowledges that her personal information would be shared with others.”
The judges’ ruling is a reminder that photos and information posted on social media are not truly private. Anyone involved in a slip and fall lawsuit, or any other personal injury lawsuit should avoid posting details of their case on social media, and should talk to a lawyer about the effects social media may have on their case.