Think social media case law is only for special cases? Are you still wondering if it applies to your practice?
In the past couple of years, social media evidence has become central to more and more matters, including all kinds of civil and criminal cases. We’ve seen more clients using our products to collect social media evidence as a way to investigate potential infringement as well as to find the smoking gun evidence they need to finalize their case. Here are some of the most commonly cited and influential cases in a number of areas.
AvePoint, Inc. and AvePoint Public Sector, Inc. v. Power Tools, Inc. (U.S. Dist. Ct., Virginia, Nov. 7 2013) In this Federal District Court case, software maker AvePoint, Inc., brought a trademark infringement and defamation action against competitor, Axceler, based upon allegedly false and deceptive statements that Axceler and its agents made about Avepoint through Twitter and LinkedIn, including setting up a fake LinkedIn account.
Social Media Sanctions
Gatto v. United Air Lines, Inc., (D.N.J. Mar. 25, 2013) the court sanctioned a plaintiff for deactivating and deleting his Facebook account.
EEOC v. The Original Honeybaked Ham Co. of Georgia, Inc., the judge has hammered a federal agency for failure to produce social media in a timely manner. Or as the opinion has it, for engaging in “inappropriate and obstreperous” and “contumacious behavior.”
In People v. Harris, a criminal prosecution of an Occupy Wall Street protestor, the court found defendant had to produce tweets and that by submitting tweets he had no expectation of privacy.
Gulliver Schools v. Patrick Snay, February 14, 2014 a Florida appeals court threw out an $80,000 settlement between a Miami prep school and a former headmaster after former headmaster’s daughter boasted about confidential settlement to her friends on Facebook.
In Lineberry v. Richards (E.D. Mich. Feb. 5, 2013), employees brought Facebook photos to their employer showing that employee out on FMLA leave based on an on-the-job back injury, was riding in a motorboat while on vacation in Mexico and holding two grandchildren at once.
In Reid v. Ingerman Smith LLP (E.D. N.Y. Dec. 27, 2012) a legal secretary sued her former law firm employer for same-sex harassment and sought damages for emotional distress. The law firm obtained her private Facebook postings by showing the court that her public postings contradicted her claims of mental anguish.
Griffin v. State, 419 Md. 343, 19 A.3d 415 (Md. Ct. App. 2011), the court overturned conviction for felonies including second-degree murder because MySpace pages of defendant’s girlfriend on which there were threats (“snitches get stitches”) against a key witness lacked a proper foundation as they were not properly authenticated. In a similar case, the Delaware Appellate court affirmed the conviction (Parker v. State, — A.3d –, 2014) upholding a conviction of second degree assault based on Facebook evidence.
I Think We’ve Made the Case
Social media is a key piece of evidence in capturing cheating spouses, insurance fraudsters, and crooks of all stripes. It is also an important part of large-scale, complex business disputes. Fortunately, Nextpoint is built for exactly this kind of investigation.