Social Network Privacy And Your Legal Rights – Part IV: How A Facebook Post Violated A Confidential Settlement Agreement March 4, 2014
By Mike Malvey, Esq.
This blog is part of an ongoing series involving social media privacy and the effects that it can have on your legal rights. Click the links below to access prior blog entries on this subject:
Part I – Social Networking and your Personal Injury Case
Part II – Recent Court Opinions on the Right of Insurance Companies to Access Social Media Information During Litigation
Part III – Social Media and the Workplace
At Galfand Berger we continue to recommend that you keep your social network websites on the highest privacy settings available, where only confirmed friends can see your posts.
In previous blogs we recommended that if you have any legal issues going on in your life, we strongly advise that you never comment about these matters on your Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts.
A recent case out of Florida has demonstrated the importance of using caution when discussing any legal matters on Facebook, even in situations where you are not discussing your own lawsuit.
In the matter of Snay v. Gulliver Preparatory School, Patrick Snay brought claims for employment discrimination against the school where he previously served as a Head Master. After litigation, the parties reached a settlement in the amount of $80,000.00. As part of the agreement to settle, Mr. Snay and the School District entered into a confidentially agreement where the parties agreed that neither side would publicize the terms of the settlement.
Shortly after entering into the settlement agreement, Patrick Snay’s daughter Dana Snay posted on her Facebook wall “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Several of Dana Snay’s 1200 Facebook friends had ties to the Gulliver School that was involved in the settlement and reported this post back to the school, who then notified their attorneys. After learning that Mr. Snay’s daughter had publicized the settlement on her Facebook page, the school’s attorneys advised Patrick Snay they had violated the terms of the confidentiality agreement and they were refusing to pay the $80,000.00 settlement.
After Patrick Snay filed a Motion to have the settlement enforced, the appeals court held that the Snays had in fact violated the terms of the confidentiality agreement. The Circuit Court Judge who entered the ruling stated “Snay violated the agreement by doing exactly what he had promised not to do. His daughter did precisely what the confidentiality agreement was designed to prevent.” Mr. Snay is now attempting to appeal this matter to the Florida Supreme Court.
This matter is yet another illustration of the complicated issues that can arise when discussing personal legal affairs on Facebook. In this case, even though Mr. Snay did not personally post the outcome of the case onto his personal Facebook page, because his daughter was provided information regarding the settlement and posted it herself, this was sufficient for the court to conclude that a violation of the confidentiality agreement had been made. .
If you have any questions about privacy rights and social media, the attorneys at Galfand Berger are here to answer your questions. As always, we recommend that you use common sense when posting anything to social media websites and always follow the golden rule of never discussing anything remotely related to any legal claims you or your family may have.
To speak with an attorney at Galfand Berger, call 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. We are team of skilled litigators handling all types of legal matters, including personal injury, medical malpractice, pharmaceutical liability, premises liability, workplace injury, employment law and Social Security Disability matters. We have offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem and Reading, Pennsylvania and represent clients throughout the Philadelphia – Allentown – Harrisburg region, as well as Southern New Jersey.