Terry v Mullowney, 2009 NLTD 56
In Terry v Mullowney, the plaintiff sought damages for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. In an effort to dispute the plaintiff’s claim for damages, the defendants presented evidence from Facebook showing the plaintiff’s “full and active” social life.
The plaintiff’s Facebook posts showed him hosting parties, attending outings at summer cabins, drinking alcohol, and smoking marijuana in the company of friends. These pictures contradicted the plaintiff’s assertion that he was experiencing a loss in the enjoyment of life.
The Facebook posts had a profound impact on Justice Adams’ decision who concluded that “without this evidence, I would have been left with a very different impression of Mr. Terry’s social life”. When the social media content was taken together with the plaintiff’s testimony at trial, medical evidence, and video surveillance, Justice Adams found that the plaintiff had exaggerated the effect of his injuries. After considering the totality of the evidence, Justice Adams only awarded general damages, significantly reduced from what the plaintiff had claimed.
It is interesting to note that the information referred to by the court was all publicly accessible. However, in the middle of the proceedings, the plaintiff shut down his Facebook account claiming he did not want to incriminate himself in court. On this, the judge said, “I draw an adverse inference against Mr. Terry on account of this statement and conclude that the Facebook account which he shut down and some particular messages which he deleted prior to shutting down the account entirely contained information which would have damaged his claim”. This case serves as a cautionary tale against deleting online evidence.
Social media is being used as evidence in personal injury cases and you can no longer ignore what your clients post online. Private Footprint is a powerful tool that allows lawyers to quickly view, organize, and make sense of the overwhelming volume of social media content generated by clients. You can easily monitor social activity for each client separately, flag specific posts, and quickly generate detailed reports which document your client’s lives before and after life-altering events.
Contact us today to learn more about Private Footprint and how you can start protecting the value of your files.