Social media and web site content may serve as key evidence for many types of legal matters, including trademark infringement litigation, defamation cases, and employment matters related to harassment and workers’ compensation. However, capturing screenshots of such content as a means of data preservation for subsequent production in those legal matters may lead to issues related to their proper authentication.Read More
Defendant filed a Motion to Compel Plaintiff to produce audio recordings, hard drives, social media posts. Defendants’ Motion was granted. At least a portion of the data that Plaintiff was obligated to produce had been destroyed and/or missing due to a flood. After Plaintiff informed it of us, Defendant agreed to provide Plaintiff with an extension of time to correct his deficient discovery responses. Contingent on time for Plaintiff to allow his deposition to be retaken.
In his Response to Defendant’s Motion, Plaintiff did not assert that he complied with his discovery obligations but rather than production of the information sought was unreasonably cumulative or duplicative. For approximately 18 requests for production, Plaintiff failed to provide a response or objection, and failed to timely supplement his responses.
The Court granted largely Defendant’s Motion to Compel, ordering Plaintiff to respond to its requests for production, and supplement his responses to interrogatories, but also limiting Plaintiff’s responses to documents that would not require disclosure of attorney-client privilege and/or information that was not overly broad. Moreover, the Court ordered Plaintiff to appear for an additional supplemental deposition and also state that electronically stored information relevant to the litigation was actually destroyed (due to flooding) and submit the damaged storage devises for expert inspection. The
respective parties were responsible for their own attorney’s fees and costs regarding the discovery issues.
Nature of Case: Employment Discrimination, Family and Medical Leave Act
Electronic Data Involved: Hard Drives, Audio Recordings, Social Media Posts
Key Insight: Defendants filed a motion for spoliation sanctions under FRCP 37(e) based on plaintiff’s deletion of certain Facebook messages and emails. Plaintiff claimed he deleted the messages to free up memory on his mobile phone. The court adopted the magistrate judge’s report and recommendations, finding plaintiff’s failure to preserve certain ESI caused prejudice to defendants warranting relief, but did not conclude that plaintiff did so with an intent to deprive defendants the use of the information in litigation. Plaintiff had an obligation to preserve the ESI; he deleted certain messages after he filed his lawsuit; and took no affirmative measures to preserve the ESI despite a duty to do so. The court allowed the introduction of a jury question on the destruction of some of the ESI evidence but reserved ruling on harsher sanctions.
Nature of Case: Employment discrimination
Electronic Data Involved: Facebook, Email
Key Insight: Defendant sought discovery of plaintiff’s social media, e-mails and text messages, and recommended an e-discovery vendor to search and collect the ESI, at defendant’s expense. The court granted the motion, finding the requests are not overly broad since plaintiff placed her lifestyle and activities prior to the accident directly at issue by claiming that her prior activities far exceed what she can do now. There is no burden to plaintiff since defendant has offered to hire an e-discovery vendor to access and retrieve the data. Any privacy issues can be addressed pursuant to a stipulated protective order.
Nature of Case: Personal injury – insurance bad faith
Electronic Data Involved: Social Media, Email, Text Messages
Key Insight: The pro se plaintiff was ordered to produce social media (Facebook) content relating to the events at issue in the amended complaint. Based on his public Facebook posts, plaintiff commented extensively on the case and identified evidence and witnesses. Plaintiff argued that defendants already had the information from the public posts, but the court found there is a strong indication plaintiff was withholding relevant and discoverable evidence that was private in his account.
Nature of Case: Civil rights – personal injury
Electronic Data Involved: Social media
Key Insight: Plaintiff’s social media account information (Facebook and Instagram) is relevant and proportional to his alleged damages for loss of the capacity to enjoy life. Social media is not privileged or protected by any right of privacy.
Nature of Case: Admiralty
Electronic Data Involved: Social Media
Key Insight: Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel and to Extend Fact Discovery Deadline after Defendant refused to substantively respond to Plaintiff’s discovery requests. Similarly, Defendant also had filed Motion to Compel Plaintiff to respond to its discovery requests regarding online account information, social media and browser history. The Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion(s) and partially granted Defendant’s Motion to Compel. The fact discovery deadline in the matter was extended to approximately two months after the Court’s order(s).
Nature of Case: Class Action Lawsuit
Electronic Data Involved: Social Media, Online Account History, Privacy Settings on Websites, Internet Browser History