In the updated rules in the FRCP regarding electronic discovery, the amount of data available can be overwhelming. In Scott v. United States Postal Service, et al., (Civil Action No. 15-712-BAJ-EWD.) United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana, December 27, 2016, the court narrowed the scope of the social media discovery requested by the defendant, United States Postal Service.
In June of 2014, Madeline Scott, the plaintiff, was injured in a car accident involving a US Postal Service worker, who was acting within the scope of her job with the postal service. Therefore, the defendant is the United States of America. Plaintiff Scott filed a complaint under the Federal Torts Claims Act. The defendant moved the court to compel the plaintiff to comply with discovery requests. The defendant requested information from the plaintiff’s social media accounts (including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) regarding any and all vacations, travel, and physical or athletic activities since the accident. Plaintiff objected to each of these requests saying the information was immaterial and not going to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
The court said, yes, the social media posts were discoverable under FRCP 34, however, the requests were overly broad and therefore must be tailored to prevent the defendants from going on “a fishing expedition”. The court narrowed the scope of the request to social media postings from the time of the accident to the present, but limited the subject matter to postings related to her injuries from the wreck. The court also allowed discovery of social media posts related to physical activity that could be considered inconsistent with the injuries the plaintiff claims to have suffered. The court also found some of the plaintiff’s objections to be too “boilerplate” and not timely filed, so some were waived.
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Nationally recognized litigation attorney Thomas Metier practice areas include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, trucking accidents and motor vehicle accidents. He is licensed to practice in Colorado, Wyoming, the U.S. District Court–District of Colorado, and the U.S. District Court–District of Wyoming, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.