Thursday, July 28, 2016

Admissibility of Damaging Facebook Posts by Plaintiff Addressed by Western District Federal Court



A Facebook decision from a while back has been brought to my attention--this one is not on the discoverability of Facebook info;  rather, this decision pertains to the admissibility of such information at trial over the objection of the Plaintiff, in part, that the information is embarrassing.

In the Federal Western District Court of Pennsylvania decision of Newill v. Campbell Transp. Co., No. 2: 2012-CV-1344, 2015 U.S. Dist Lexis 4350 (W.D. Pa. 2015 McVerry, J.) from over a year ago, the court reviewed a Plaintiff's motion in limine to preclude the Defendant from introducing several of the Plaintiff's Facebook posts into evidence in a personal injury matter on the basis they were irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial, and potentially embarrassing.  

According to the opinion the Plaintiff's Facebook posts referenced going to the gym, landscaping, flooring, and undercoating a truck.  The Plaintiff also apparently advertised his services as a handyman, indicating that no job was too big or too small. The Court found that the posts from Plaintiff's Facebook account that reflected physical capabilities inconsistent with Plaintiff's claims of injury and limitations were relevant and embarrassment alone was found not to be a sufficient basis for excluding the posts pursuant to F.R.E. 403.  

The Court did leave the door open for the issue to be revisited during the actual trial by noting that if, at the time of trial, the Defendant attempted to introduce posts the Plaintiff felt were particularly embarrassing, the issue of admissibility could be re-raised pursuant to F.R.E. 611.

Anyone wishing to review this case, may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Brian Murren, a law clerk in the Camp Hill office of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin for bringing this decision to my attention.

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