On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, February 10, 2014.
Filing for divorce can mean a lot of your personal information becomes relevant at trial. That includes your Facebook posts. Florida courts will often let your Ex, or soon-to-be Ex, discover things from your accounts. What are the limits? Last week the Second District Court of Appeals tried to answer that question.
In a personal injury action, parents of a 3-year old sued the City of Cape Coral for damages after their son was hit by a truck in front of a construction site.
The defendants asked the mother to produce copies of postings her Facebook account, and the mother didn’t want to comply because the request information was very personal and not relevant to the lawsuit.
The defendant wanted copies of postings on her Facebook account which include the following:
– Psychological care obtained by the mom;
– All postings, statuses, photos, “likes” or videos related to the mom’s relationships with her children before and after the accident;
– Her relationships with other family members, boyfriends, husbands, and/or significant others;
– Her mental health, stress complaints, alcohol use or other substance use;
– Postings about any lawsuit filed after the accident.
The court noted that none of the requests pertained to the accident itself. Instead, the discovery relates to her past and present personal relationships mental health, use of alcohol and lawsuits.
Also, the court saw it as a fishing expedition, even the defendant’s attorney admitted as much:
“These are all things that we would like to look under the hood, so to speak, and figure out whether that’s even a theory worth exploring.”
Based on the then current posture of the case, the court concluded that the Facebook discovery requests had to be quashed. However, should the status of the case change, the requested information may be discoverable.
The lesson for lawyers is to tailor Facebook requests to require production of materials related as closely as can be to the claims and defenses in the case. For litigants, watch what you post on social media sites, they may be discoverable.
The Second District Court of Appeals opinion can be read here.