Tesser Ryan Blog

Facebook Profile Information Used to Contest Nature of Plaintiff’s Injuries

We’ve all heard the advice from career counselors, professors and other advisors
with regard to our online social networking profiles. They urge us to be mindful of what
we post online as it can be seen by current or potential employers and admissions offices
of colleges and universities. Well, we can add defense counsel to that list. In a recent
personal injury case out of Suffolk County, NY, Justice Jeffrey Arlen Spinner allowed
defense counsel access to plaintiff’s Facebook profile to contest the extent of plaintiff’s
injuries. In Romano v. Steelcase, plaintiff sued a chair manufacturer for injuries
sustained when she fell out of an allegedly defective chair while at work. Plaintiff
claimed she sustained serious injuries that resulted in her being bedridden and confined
to her home. Defense counsel searched her Facebook profile and found pictures of her
smiling outside of her home shortly after the injury occurred. Counsel also found photos
of a Florida vacation taken by plaintiff after sustaining the injury. Defense counsel
requested further access to plaintiff’s profile in hopes of finding additional evidence
that would directly contradict plaintiff’s claims. Despite objections by both plaintiff’s
counsel and Facebook, Justice Spinner allowed access to plaintiff’s profile stating that
plaintiff did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy for information posted on her
profile. This case can serve as a practice tip to attorney’s when advising their clients
about the dangers of sharing too much information via their online profiles.

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