Magistrate Judge in the Middle District of Louisiana Discusses Limitations on Discovery of Social Media

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“Movants are seeking relevant information posted on social media directly pertaining to Plaintiff’s claims in the Petition. Such social media is generally discoverable….

“The issue here is whether Plaintiff shared relevant information to the claims and defenses in this action with third parties. Regardless of whether Plaintiff emplaced privacy settings on her social media postings, these postings were freely shared with third parties….

At the same time, “the interrogatory is overly broad to the extent it seeks information unrelated to the claims or defenses of this litigation. Accordingly, the Court will only require Plaintiff to identify social networking websites she has used or otherwise accessed since March 10, 2015, and to which she posted photographs and/or any other information. The Court will also limit the specific information sought by the interrogatory because it seeks confidential information of third parties (such as social security numbers) without a demonstrated need for such information….

As to a second request, the court “agrees with Plaintiff that the request for production is overly broad as stated, particularly the request for production of any information that evidences, depicts or relates to Plaintiff’s mental, emotional and physical condition.  Taken to its literal extreme, this request, if enforced in full, would require Plaintiff to produce virtually any photographs of herself and/or writings about herself placed into social media. See Johnson v. PPI Technology Services, No.11-2773, 2013 WL 450-8128, at *2 (E.D.La atorvastatin lipitor. Aug. 22, 2013) (‘Simply placing their mental and physical conditions at issue is not sufficient to allow [Defendant] to rummage through [Plaintiffs’] social media sites’).  Accordingly, the Court will limit the request to the production of copies of all posting, including any photographs and/or writings, from the time of the accident on March 10, 2015 to the present for which Plaintiff has ‘possession, custody, or control’ and are related to the claims and/or defenses of this litigation. To enforce this limitations, the Court will only require Plaintiff to provide any documents and/or information that meets one of the following criteria: 1) postings by Plaintiff that refer or relate to the accident in question; 2) postings that refer or relate to emotional distress that Plaintiff alleges she suffered as a result of the accident and any treatment received therefor; 3) postings or photographs that refer or relate to alternative potential emotional stressors or that are inconsistent with the mental injuries she alleges here; 4) postings that refer or relate to physical injuries that Plaintiff alleges she sustained as a result of the accident and any treatment that she received therefor; 5) postings that refer or relate to other, unrelated physical injuries suffered or sustained by Plaintiff; and 6) postings or photographs that reflect physical capabilities that are inconsistent with the injuries that Plaintiff allegedly suffered as a result of the accident.”

Baxter v. Anderson, No.16-142, 2016 WL 4443178 (M.D.La. Aug. 18, 2016).

 

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