Discovery of social-media evidence can be a valuable tool, particularly in employment and personal-injury litigation. Employers’ lawyers should be aware not only of the potentially relevant evidence in a plaintiff-employee’s Facebook account. They also should be very aware of the ethical implications relating to their own client’s social-media activities. One such implication is the potential spoliation of evidence. A new decision from the U.S. District Court of New Jersey offers an important reminder of this critical duty.
The plaintiff, a baggage handler, alleged that he was injured when a set of feuler stairs crashed into him. He claimed that, because of his injuries, he was permanently disabled, was unable to work, and was limited in his physical and social activities.
During litigation, the defendants sought discovery regarding the plaintiff’s damages and social activities. Plaintiff signed authorization forms form eBay, PayPal, and some social-networking sites but not for his Facebook account.