Today, the New York Court of Appeals issued a ruling allowing broad disclosure of photographs and messages posted on Facebook. Moreover, it allowed the disclosure of the "data revealing the timing and number of characters in posted messages (which) would be relevant to plaintiffs' claim that she suffered injuries that caused her to have difficulty writing and using the computer, particularly her claim that she is painstakingly slow in crafting messages."
The plaintiff claimed that she fell from a horse owned by the defendant. She allegedly suffered spinal and brain injuries resulting in cognitive deficits, difficulties communicating by computer, severely restricted activities and social isolation. Before the accident, the plaintiff testified that she posted frequently on Facebook with both messages and photographs and since the accident could no longer or with tremendous difficulty. The defense successfully argued that they should not be limited to only those photographs the plaintiff planned to use at trial.
The defense convinced the Court of Appeals that "the Facebook messages would reveal the amount of time it takes plaintiff to write a post or respond to a message." The Court explained that Facebook discovery should be just as broad as any other conventional source subject to the same relevancy, privacy and privilege considerations. The Court pointed out that the disclosure of a party's entire Facebook account would be no more appropriate than a request for every photograph taken of a plaintiff since birth. However, the Court of Appeals explained that Facebook photos and messages should not be subjected to either a higher or lower level of scrutiny than traditional equivalents for relevancy or privacy objections. Forman v Henkin, 2018 NY Slip Op 01015