Social Media Photographs Allowed in Civil Discovery
On January 7 of this year, the Florida Appellate Court handed down a very important opinion that states that social media photographs are not protected from civil discovery because individuals have little or no privacy rights to information that they have posted on social media sites. The court reasoned that photographs were an important part of a case and provided courts with many facts that are necessary to decide personal injury cases. They concluded that pictures are useful because just using testimony in a trial is insufficient for the court “to grasp what a plaintiff’s life was like prior to an accident.”
This opinion stemmed from a petition by Maria Nucci that asked for the Florida Court of Appeals to quash a discovery order. Maria Nucci sued Target Corporation in a personal injury lawsuit regarding that she slipped and fell while in a Target store. During the discovery process, Target requested access to photos that Nucci posted on her personal Facebook page and the state trial court granted that request.
Judge Robert M. Gross wrote the opinion for an unanimous three-judge panel reasoning that photographs that are posted on social media websites are neither privileged nor protected by a person’s right of privacy and it does not matter what the user sets their privacy settings to. In his opinion, Judge Gross wrote “Because information that an individual shares through social networking websites like Facebook may be copied and disseminated by another, the expectation that such information is private, in the tradition sense of the word, is not a reasonable one.”
What is Discovery?
In a lawsuit,discovery is the investigative process of gathering information that is related to the lawsuit. The process often turns up facts and documents that may not have been previously known. The discovery process generally takes place outside of the courtroom where the parties to the lawsuit exchange written information, documents, or sit through face-to-face questioning sessions called depositions. There are different rules on what can or cannot be discovered depending on the type of case and where the case is being tried at.
Examples of what can be discovered:
– Anything a witness or party saw, heard, or did in connection with the action;
– Documents related to the action; or
– The personal, educational, and professional background of a witness or party.
Examples of what cannot be discovered:
– Confidential conversations;
– Private matters, such as health matters and sexual history; or
– Privacy rights of 3rd parties.
Have You Been Injured?
A personal injury case and the trial process in general can be very complicated. Laws can change all the time and there are many specific rules that you must follow in order to give you the best chance at being successful in your case. If you have been injured, don’t hesitate to contact a legal professional for help. Call the Fort Lauderdale attorneys at Boone & Davis today; we are prepared to advocate on your behalf to help you secure compensation.