Plaintiff’s Social Media History is Discoverable, but with Limitations

In What's New in E-Discovery and Spoliation?, What's New in the Courts by gravierhouseLeave a Comment

Defendant in a personal injury case sought the plaintiff’s social media history.  While the plaintiff technically waived her objections to the discovery requests by failing to serve them within thirty days, Magistrate Judge Erin Wilder-Doomes, sitting in the Middle District of Louisiana, nevertheless limited them as overbroad:

“As Defendant points out, social media is generally discoverable. However, a request for discovery must still be tailored so that it appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Otherwise, the Defendant would be allowed to engage in the proverbial fishing expedition, in the hope that there might be something of relevance in Plaintiff’s social networking sites accounts.”

In this particular case, the interrogatory seeking information about the plaintiff’s social networking sites was “overly broad to the extent it seeks information regarding ‘the time period of use of each social media account listed.’ Thus, the Court will limit the interrogatory to identifying all social media accounts that Plaintiff has used since the underlying accident on June 6, 2014, her usernames, whether she has accessed the accounts since the accident, and the last time she accessed the accounts. The Court also finds that the Request for Production is overly broad to the extent that it seeks all social media postings ‘related to any type of physical or athletic activities from June 6, 2014, to present….’ The Court will therefore limit the Request for Production to all of Plaintiff’s social media postings, including photographs, since the June 6, 2014 accident that: (1) refer or relate to the physical injuries Plaintiff alleges she sustained as a result of the accident and any treatment she received therefor; or (2) reflect physical capabilities that are inconsistent with the injuries that Plaintiff allegedly suffered as a result of the accident….”

“To ensure that Plaintiff’s search for responsive information is complete, Plaintiff must, to the extent possible, download all historical data available from her social networking website accounts to review for responsive information covered by this Order. If a particular social network website does not allow for such a review, the responses provided shall include a description of the steps taken to locate and review and responsive information within any social networking website account.”

 

Scott v. United States Postal Serv., No.15-712, 2016 WL 7440468 (M.D.La. Dec. 27, 2016).

 

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