Unfortunately, it occurs all too often: a plaintiff overstates, inflates, or fabricates an injury altogether after an auto accident and seeks compensation. And then she posts photos of herself completing a 5k on Facebook.
Defendants are beginning to fight back, asking courts for permission to introduce a plaintiff’s Facebook content if it appears to contradict statements made in court about the scope of their injuries.
In a recent Pennsylvania case, Largent v. Reed, Jennifer Largent claimed that an automobile accident caused by the defendant, Jennifer Rosko, left her and her husband with “serious and permanent physical and mental injuries.” Largent’s injuries were so extensive that she needed to walk with a cane, she told the Court.
All it took was a search of the plaintiff’s public profile to see Largent’s status updates about going to the gym and “enjoying life with her family.” Judge Richard Walsh was satisfied that the defendants met relevancy standard needed to probe the rest of her page. Noting Facebook’s motto – “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life” – Walsh wrote:
[No court has ever] recognized a ‘general privacy privilege’ for Facebook information, and neither will we… only the uninitiated or foolish could believe that Facebook is an online lockbox of secrets.”
Ben Present, writing for the Legal Intelligencer, notes that this is the third Pennsylvania civil court to decide that a party’s Facebook page falls within the scope of discovery if posted information appears to contradict statements in discovery or testimony. Let’s hope that plaintiffs and attorneys will begin to think twice before crowding our courts with bogus claims- that’s something honest Pennsylvanians can ‘like.’