Should a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit be required to provide user names and passwords for their social network sites on MySpace and Facebook? Under Pennsylvania law, the answer appears to be YES. In the matter of Bill R. McMillen, Sr. v. Hummingbird Speedway, Inc., Louie Caltagarone, Dave Reisinger and Josie Lee Wolfe, President Judge John Henry Foradora of the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County ordered a Plaintiff in a personal injury case to provide his Facebook and MySpace user names and passwords to Defendants so they could review.
The Court first addressed the issue of whether the information on this social network sites is privileged. The Court specifically determined there is “no social network site privilege.” Moreover, the Court examined the privacy policies and disclaimers for the Facebook and MySpace and reached the conclusion that none of the information on these sites can be construed as confidential or subject to confidentiality.
Based on this decision, attorneys defending personal injury claims will focus in on obtaining access to these sites because there could be a treasure trove of information. Many people post pictures and make statements without thinking about the implication on their personal injury claim.
Here at Stark & Stark, we ask about this information during our initial client interview and intake process. We counsel our clients to be very careful as to what they post on these sites and remind them that this information could be obtained by the defendants. We also instruct our clients not delete or alter any existing posts.