Keller v National Farmer Union Prop. & Cas., 2013 WL 27731
In Keller v National Farmer Union Prop. & Cas., the defendant insurer argued that it was entitled to information on the plaintiff’s social media sites to assess her credibility following her claim for damages after alleging to have suffered physical and emotional injuries due to a motor vehicle accident.
The plaintiff issued a claim against the defendant after
it refused to pay the medical bills for her alleged injuries. In response, the defendant moved for an order compelling the plaintiff to produce social media content and pre-accident medical records. However, the plaintiff objected to these discovery requests on the grounds that such requests were irrelevant and harassing. The defendant argued that this objection was unwarranted as there is no valid expectation of privacy in social media communication. Rather, the purpose of social networking is to share information.
The Federal Court found that the defendant had not come forward with evidence that the plaintiff’s public postings undermined her injury claims. Accordingly, the discovery requests were both granted and denied in part. Access to the plaintiff’s social media was only granted insofar as they were required to provide a list of all social networking sites to which they belonged. However, the plaintiff’s public profiles were absent of evidence that could undermine their claims, and thus the defense was not entitled to access the non-public sections of their accounts.
Key Takeaways in This Case
- A threshold must be met where available public social media posts contradict the plaintiff’s claims for access to their private social media to be granted.
- Objections motivated by an expectation of privacy are not compelling due to the public nature of social networking sites.
- A defendant’s request for access to social media information may outweigh a plaintiff’s privacy concerns if the information gained through the plaintiff’s public profiles reveals material evidence relevant to the claim in dispute.
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