And the Plot Thickens – Social Media Law in PA Continues to Develop with a New Decision

A new decision handed down by Judge Saylor found that the defense could have access to plaintiff’s MySpace account. This decision falls squarely in line with the other two relevant Pennsylvania decisions, Piccolo and McMillen.

In the newest case, Zimmerman v. Weis Markets Inc., the plaintiff claimed he never wore shorts because he was embarrassed by a scar he received in his injury. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, he also posted pictures of himself wearing shorts on the publicly accessible pages of his MySpace account.

Plaintiff argued his privacy rights outweighed the discovery and evidentiaty interests, but the proof of valid data contained within the MySpace account defeated this argument quite easily based upon the finding in McMillen.

It is very good to see this consistent and logical development of social media law here in Pennsylvania. My kudos to all three judges for creating a policy that makes sense. Namely, if there is proof of relevant information contained within a social media account, then that account should be accessible by the side seeking it. No proof of relevant information means no access, since it would simply be a fishing expedition.

I consistently express my very strong opinion on the necessity of insurance defense attorneys to check social media accounts. The Zimmerman case is the perfect example of why I do so.  The need to check accounts isn’t limited to insurance defense of course, virtually every type of case can benefit from a proper social media check.

As always, I remind lawyers to tell their clients to be careful what they post. I also will remind everyone that privacy settings are extremely important. I continue to be amazed at he number of people who leave their social media accounts open for the world to see and express shock when they learn their information isn’t as private as they thought it was.

Famous last words, “but I thought it was private.”


(The Legal Intelligencer, as always, does a good job of summarizing the case. A paid subscription is required.)

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