Thursday, January 13, 2011

Facebook authorizations

In ROMANO v. STEELCASE, INC., (N.Y. Sup. 2010) Supreme Court in Suffolk County (Justice Spinner) engaged in a thorough analysis of whether or not defense counsel is entitled to seek an authorization for social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. The court held that a plaintiff in a personal injury action who is claiming physical limitations and loss of enjoyment are required to provide consents that authorize defense counsel to review plaintiff's Facebook/MySpace pages. Justice Spinner examined federal and Canadian case law because "there is no New York case law directly addressing the issues raised by this application, there are instructive cases from other jurisdictions." Justice Spinner also found that a plaintiff "has no legitimate reasonable expectation of privacy" in their online postings.

A month later, the Fourth Department decided McCANN v. HARLEYSVILLE INS. CO. of NY (2010 WL 4540599 (4th Dep't 2010), which held that it was error to grant a protective order prohibiting defendant from seeking disclosure of plaintiff's Facebook account. Although the court also affirmed the lower court's decision denying defendant's motion to compel, that decision was based on defendant's failure to establish the necessary factual predicate.


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