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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Facebook Creates Major Woes for the Legal System

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Facebook Causing Serious Legal Woes

In the age of Facebook, the legal system is experiencing some serious problems.  With individuals able to post their near every move on the social networking site for their “friends” to see, it is difficult to maintain the anonymity that legal proceedings require.  But for those dumb enough to post pertinent legal information on Facebook, the consequences can be severe.  Take, for example, the story of a teen girl whose father won a lawsuit against his former employer but was forced to give back a large sum of settlement money because she couldn’t stop herself from bragging on Facebook.

Teen Girl Costs Her Father $80,000

Patrick Snay won an $80,000 settlement in a discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, Gulliver Prep School.  The case originated in 2010 when the school refused to renew Snay’s contract following years of employment.  Snay argued age discrimination (he was 69 at the time of the refusal) and that problems that the school had with his daughter, a student at Gulliver, wrongly contributed to their decision.  Although Snay was awarded the settlement, he also agreed to a confidentiality agreement that he and his wife would keep the “terms and existence” of the agreement private.  That all went south when the Snays decided to tell their teenage daughter about the settlement.  In response, she posted a Facebook message that read: “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver.  Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer.  SUCK IT.”

Teen Girl Not the Only One to Misuse Facebook During Legal Proceedings

I was also dismayed to read other stories of jurors using Facebook during a trial to post status updates or taking pictures of defendants and victims to post to social media.  However, it isn’t just jurors and plaintiffs engaging in naughty social media behavior; there was even a judge who decided to send a “friend request” to a woman in a divorce proceeding when she was presiding over the case!  The woman was saddled with the majority of the marital debt and substantial alimony payments to her husband until she protested against the judge’s bad behavior and an appeals court sided with her and kicked the judge off of the case.  Needless to say, it’s important to keep your mouth shut and follow the rules of the legal system, or pay the price.