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New York Courts Allowing Access to Facebook and Social Networking Records of Injured Parties

New York Courts Allowing Access to Facebook and Social Networking Records of Injured Parties

A word of caution if you are injured and use Social Networking websites.   Below is an excerpt from a recent New York Supreme Court case where the injured person was required to give access to all of her Facebook and MySpace records because she brought a lawsuit claiming injuries.

Romano v. Steelcase, Inc.,

Justice Jeffrey Arlen Spinner

(Supreme Court,SuffolkCounty, Decided September 21, 2010)

Defendant STEELCASE moves this Court for an Order granting said Defendant access to Plaintiff’s current and historical Facebook and MySpace pages and accounts, including all deleted pages and related information upon the grounds that Plaintiff has placed certain information on these social networking sites which are believed to be inconsistent with her claims in this action concerning the extent and nature of her injuries, especially her claims for loss of enjoyment of life. …trial courts have broad discretion in the supervision of discovery, and in determining what is “material and necessary” (see: Allen v. Crowell-Collier Pub Co, 21 NY2d 403 [1968]; Andon v.302-304 Mott StreetAssocs, 94 NY2d 740 [2000]; Cabellero v. City ofNew York, 48 AD3d 727 (2 Dept 2008). Within the context of discovery, “necessary” has been interpreted as meaning “needful and not indispensable” (see: Allen at 407, 453).  The “material and necessary” standard is to be interpreted liberally requiring disclosure of “any facts bearing on the  controversy …”  Thus, when Plaintiff created her Facebook and MySpace accounts, she consented to the fact that her personal information would be shared with others, notwithstanding her privacy settings. Indeed, that is the very nature and purpose of these social networking sites else they would cease to exist. Since Plaintiff knew that her information may become publicly available, she cannot now claim that she had a reasonable expectation of privacy… The materials including photographs contained on these sites may be relevant to the issue of damages and may disprove Plaintiff’s claims…

ORDERED, that, within 30 days from the date of service of a copy of this Order, as directed herein below, Plaintiff shall deliver  to Counsel for Defendant STEELCASE a properly executed consent and authorization as may be required by the operators of Facebook and MySpace, permitting said Defendant to gain access to Plaintiff’s Facebook and MySpace records, including any records previously deleted or archived by said operators…

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