Monday, April 29, 2013

Social Media in Litigation and the Legal Process

Let's talk Social Media Law

Social media litigation is fast growing. With litigation suits brewing over applications on Twitter and Facebook, many courts are learning just how to fit Social Media into the legal tangibles such as evidence and service of process. 

For example, a federal New Jersey Court said that one man’s Facebook account evidence so when the plaintiff deleted his account during ongoing discovery, he was sanctioned for “spoliation of evidence.” Gatto v. United Air Lines, Inc., No. 10-1090-ES-SCM, 2013 WL 1285285 (D.N.J. mar. 25, 2013).  The defendants successfully argued that the Facebook account was credible evidence to dispute the plaintiff’s damage claims.

This holding makes two points: Attorneys should consider using pursuing discovery of their opponents’ social media information; and there may be a duty to preserve their own social media evidence.

Lastly, as social media continues to grow in litigation use, compliance with civil procedure will be a necessity.  Does the future foresee service of process (serving legal documents on an opposing party) through Facebook? Well a federal judge in New York ruled where defendants run an online business, communicate with customers via email, and advertise their business on their Facebook pages, service by email and Facebook together presents a means highly likely to reach defendants. FTC v. PCCare247 Inc., No. 12-7189 (PAE), 2013 WL 841037 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 7, 2013.). 

In cases where it is difficult for an attorney to reach an opposing party through traditional means, using social media may be more efficient and effective.

Past look at Social Media in Litigation check out this story we blogged here.