Plaintiff predictably argued that his privacy interests outweigh the need for discovery materials. I think I've heard this one before... the Court relied in part on a previous Pennsylvania case, McMillen v. Hummingbird Speedway in which the court ordered the plaintiff to hand over his Facebook and MySpace passwords. Here, the Court agreed with McMillen and also relied on a Canadian ruling:
To permit a party claiming very substantial damages for loss of enjoyment of life to hide behind self-set privacy controls on a website, the primary purpose of which is to enable people to share information about how they lead their social lives, risks depriving the opposite party of access to material that may be relevant to ensuring a fair trial.Obviously, Canadian law is not binding in Pennsylvania, but sound logic has universal jurisdiction.
Any guesses on how this story ends? Yup:
AND NOW, this 19th day of May, 2011, it is hereby ORDERED that Plaintiff shall provide all passwords, user names and log-in names for any and all MySpace and Facebook accounts to Defendant within twenty (20) days from the date hereof. It is FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall not take steps to delete or alter existing information and posts of his MySpace or Facebook accounts.HT: The Legal Intelligencer, Social Media Discovery Evovlving in Pennsylvania. A copy of the opinion and order is available here, courtesy of Eric Meyer's TheEmployerHandbook blog entry: A new HELLA GOOD social-media-discovery ruling for employers.
Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.