The Love/ Hate relationship with Social Media: Sharing our lives and lawsuits with "friends"


After a lawsuit was filed against one of our clients, both parties (plaintiff and defendant) submitted Discovery Requests to opposing counsel.  
If any of you have been through a lawsuit before, you know that "discovery" allows you to ask the other party for all documents related to the conflict at issue, unless subject to a privilege (like the attorney-client privilege, marital privilege, or other).
Typically it is burdensome, tiresome, and expensive: documents include all contracts, letters, emails, and now, Facebook wall postings- even if you have deleted the posts! (This is an area of newer law, based in part on Crispin v. Christian Audigier Inc., 2010 U.S. Dist. 
Lexis 52832 (C.D. Cal. May 26, 2010), so the complete legal ramifications are unclear).

In one New York case, a plaintiff was suing for pain and suffering, including "loss of enjoyment of life;" opposing counsel was granted discovery to the plaintiff's "current and historical" facebook postings, which included pictures of the plaintiff traveling and doing activities that she claimed she was permanently no longer able to do.  Whoops, caught red handed!
(From Romano v. Steelcase Inc., 2010 WL 3703242 (N.Y. Sup Ct. 2010).)

"Good Horse and Cell Phone" by Ron McGinnis

Lessons to be learned:
If you are claiming you or your horse now has permanent injuries due to the actions of another, be sure first of all that you are being truthful, and secondly, don't post videos or photos that would be contrary to your claims.

Additionally, if you are having problems with your trainer, another trainer, the person you bought your horse from, a co-owner of your horse, your barn manager, etc., keep it off the Internet!
Facebook and blogs make it so easy to instantly sound-off on your anger or frustration.  The ease of instant publication often doesn't provide enough time to think through what we are writing or saying, but the consequences of hasty posting can be enormous.

I encourage you to have a policy with yourself and your trainer and/or riding friends to exercise great restraint in what equine postings, wall comments, photos, or messages you publish on Facebook.
Many statutes of limitations are 2 years: you never know when that negative comment about your trainer may come back in the form of a defamation/ libel lawsuit one day.


Have you ever seen someone's negative posting and cringed? 
I have seen negative postings about trainers, horse sellers, and show management (and have looked at the public content of parties in a lawsuit); keep your privacy settings tight and your postings neutral!

Thanks to Eric Goldman, Technology & Marketing Law Blog for the Romano case 
And Blank and Rome for the Crispin case