Could Your Facebook Photos Ruin Your Personal Injury Case?
Facebook and other social media have changed the legal system. A defendant and a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit have access to social media photos and posts. A Florida woman tried to argue that a company she was suing in a slip and fall accident could not have access to photos on her personal Facebook page. A panel in the Fourth District Court of Appeals Florida disagreed.
Maria Nucci claimed that she slipped and fell at a Target store in Florida. She believed a “foreign substance” on the floor caused the injury and she filled a lawsuit. The lawsuit claimed that Nucci suffered bodily injury; experienced pain from the injury; incurred medical, hospital, and nursing expenses and suffered a physical handicap.
In 2010, Nucci was asked to submit testimony in the case during a deposition. Prior to the deposition, lawyers for Target viewed photos on Nucci’s Facebook page and found the profile contained 1,285 photographs. During the deposition, lawyers for Target asked to view the Facebook page, but Nucci objected. After the deposition, Target lawyers found the Facebook page contained 36 fewer photographs, so lawyer assumed that the photos had been deleted from the profile.
Target filed a motion that asked a judge to allow them access to the profile. Nucci’s lawyers argued that the privacy settings on Facebook had been turned on, so Nucci had a right to privacy. Target’s lawyers argued that there was no right to privacy under the Constitution from a Facebook page. As well, the lawyers argued that Target had video of Nucci doing physical activities, and the photos were relevant because they showed Nucci’s current health.
In its ruling the court wrote, “The photographs sought were reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and Nucci’s privacy interest in them was minimal, if any.”
The case could have broad implications for discovery in a civil trial and is a warning to people about what they place on a social media site, especially when involved in legal litigation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. immediately at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) for a free initial consultation.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.