Privacy

Fishing for Relevancy

Make sure that when you request electronic discovery information, it is relevant to the case at hand. The mere fact that information from the request could lead to admissible evidence is not enough to make the request relevant. In Salvato v. Miley, the father of plaintiff and decedent, Joshua Salvato, brought suit on behalf of his son for wrongful death.  Salvato passed away due to a gunshot wound to his abdomen.  Salvato’s father alleged that two police officers used excessive force during the questionable incident and failed to administer adequate medical treatment. After the plaintiff’s first set of interrogatories, one of the defendant officers, Deputy Brown, objected to the discovery requests that asked for personal cell phone numbers, e-mail accounts, social media accounts, and any online memberships, including the corresponding usernames and passwords and any correspondence sent or received via those accounts. Brown objected to these interrogatory requests for four reasons:  1) the requests sought confidential information protected by Fla. Stat. § 119.071(4); 2) the requests sought irrelevant and immaterial information that is not reasonably calculated to lead to admissible information and constitutes a fishing expedition; 3) the requests were overly broad with respect to their time, scope, and effect while presenting Brown with annoyance, embarrassment, and oppression; and 4) the requests invaded Brown’s right to privacy under Article I, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution.  Salvato, 2013 WL 2712206 at *2. The court did not address the arguments involving the Florida statute or constitution.  Instead, the court focused on the relevancy of the plaintiff’s requests, finding that the plaintiff had “essentially sought permission to conduct ‘a fishing expedition’ . . . on the mere hope of finding relevant evidence.”  Salvato, 2013 WL 2712206 at *2 (quoting Tompkins v. Detriot Metro. Airport, 278 F.R.D. 387, 388 (E.D. Mich. 2012). The plaintiff’s only response was that the information “could include admissions against interest, and could certainly lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”  The court did not agree, and instead found that the plaintiff must have the “threshold burden of showing that the requested discovery is relevant.”  Here, the information the plaintiff sought was too much of a “fishing expedition” to be deemed relevant.

Fishin’ on Facebook: The Discoverability of Private Facebook Information

There is no question we live in a world consumed by social media where “Tweeting,” “Instagramming,” and “Facebooking” are commonplace. More specifically, people feel compelled to share intimate details, photographs and video of their lives with their “friends” on social media sites, such as Facebook. In the world of litigation, the question becomes “how should courts treat Facebook accounts for the purpose of discovery”?

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New Jersey Passes Social Media Privacy Bill

Everyone enjoys their privacy, even legislators! Privacy bills are becoming ubiquitous in state legislatures across the country. With the increased use of social media in and around the workplace, states are legislating to protect the dueling interests of employers and employees. Ten states, including New Jersey, passed laws that restrict employers from accessing the social media accounts of employees.

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ATTENTION! Reporter’s Privilege is NOT a Laughing Matter

Discovery rules are very important in litigation, but in specific circumstances they do not apply. A reporter has the right and discretion to keep information private that was given to them in confidence. The court decision in Hatfill took this privilege very seriously and did not allow the plaintiff access to the privileged information.

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Protecting Confidential Information Vital to Keep Civil Discovery Functioning

Litigation involving minors and schools can always be a difficult situation for all parties, and issues of confidentiality will often arise.  In order to help the judicial system function effectively, blanket protective orders will often be necessary, but judges must also make sure that they are not harming the plaintiff by issuing these orders.

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The Stored Communications Act Protects Public Posts to Social Media Sites

The case arose from an oral licensing agreement between artist Buckley Crispin, Plaintiff, and Christian Audigier and companies (famously associated with the clothing line Ed Hardy), Defendants. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant violated the terms of an oral license by failing to put Plaintiff’s logo on his artwork and by using his artwork on items that were outside the scope of the license. Defendants served subpoenas duces tecum on four third-party websites including Facebook, Myspace, Black Market Art Company, and Media Temple seeking Plaintiff’s communications, sales information and basic subscriber information. The magistrate judge, below, denied Plaintiff’s motion to quash the subpoenas.

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Is What You Post On Facebook Discoverable? The Answer Is… Maybe.

We often hear that we should be careful about what we post on the internet.  But no matter how many times we hear this good advice, it seems like we have all posted something on the internet that we later regret.  Unfortunately, the internet is not a forgiving place.  And these unwanted internet posts can haunt an individual and result in serious consequences.

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When Are Trade Secrets Not Trade Secrets?

When are trade secrets no longer allowed to be kept secret?  According to the Southern District of New York, when you try to obtain a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order in federal court you also appear to waive your right to trade secrets.

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Intra-Office E-mails: What Used To Be Unreported Office Gossip Now Potentially Exposes Companies to Liability

Serious problems can arise when what used to be office gossip around the water cooler instead manifests in discoverable intra office e-mails.

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Just When You Thought AOL Was Irrelevant—It’s Good to Know those Emails from 1999 Won’t be Getting Out

Contrary to popular belief, AOL is still an internet service provider and has recently made itself relevant again.  During the Hurricane Katrina litigation in McIntosh v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., two non-party witnesses discovered what they believed to be fraud on behalf of State Farm.

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