Authored by Scott St. Amandand Gabriel Crafton of Rogers TowersAs we discussed in our previous post regarding the Christou case, social media is discoverable – and consequently subject to a litigation hold. From an evidentiary standpoint, social media is not without its shortcomings, and it is important to understand that social media is vulnerable to irretrievable loss, through the acts of the account holder to delete the account, through malware and hacking, through the website administrator’s inadvertent error, or dozens of other possibilities. A recent case out of New Jersey, Gatto v. United Air Lines, highlights this vulnerability and the sanctions which arise from such irretrievable losses of potential evidence.
The plaintiff in Gatto was a baggage handler at JFK airport who suffered serious injuries that left him paralyzed. As part of their discovery, the defendants requested to look at the plaintiff’s social media accounts to evaluate the impact that his injury had on his lifestyle. The plaintiff authorized the defendants to access his social media accounts, except Facebook, which access was later granted in a pre-trial settlement conference.