Personal injury litigation is always deeply interconnected with what is happening in society. Torts that could not have been conceived of just a couple generations ago, such as “wrongful birth” (for mistakes in prenatal testing) or “bullying” (based on new anti-bullying laws) are now very much a part of the legal landscape. So it is not surprising that Facebook and similar social media sites have now crossed into the world of personal injury law.
Last week, a Facebook post resulted in a court throwing out an $80,000 settlement, because the plaintiff and his daughter breached the terms of a confidential agreement when the daughter boasted about it on Facebook. Just a few days after the case settled, the plaintiff’s college-age daughter posted to approximately 1,200 Facebook friends that her parents “won the case … Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Gulliver Sch., Inc. v. Snay, 2014 Fla. App. LEXIS 2595 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist. Feb. 26, 2014). Because the case had settled, the case was voluntarily dismissed by the parties. The defendant then refused to pay the plaintiff’s $80,000 settlement amount, on the ground that the daughter’s post violated the confidentiality provision in the agreement, and showed that the plaintiff himself had violated it, by telling his daughter about the settlement, in direct violation of the confidentiality provision. Because of this breach of the agreement, the Court of Appeal of Florida concluded that the defendant was not obligated to pay the $80,000.