The latest Facebook discovery request case comes out of the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas in a decision authored by the Honorable Stanton Wettick Jr. In this case, Judge Wettick denied Facebook discovery in a motor vehicle accident litigation case. In the decision, Judge Wettick balances the level of intrusion versus the value of the discovery requested.
Here, Plaintiff was seeking access to Defendant’s Facebook profile to show the Defendant’s whereabouts at and near the time of the motor vehicle accident. Defendant argued that he did not drive the vehicle and was unaware who did. However, in Admissions discovery, Defendant admitted to driving the vehicle. Judge Wettick denied the request because Plaintiff already had the information he sought in the Admissions.
Additionally, Defendant sought access to Plaintiff’s Facebook to show that Plaintiff did not sustain the serious injuries he had averred. The photographs that were used by Defendant to show relevance were not dated. Additionally, Judge Wettick noted that Plaintiff never averred he was bed ridden, therefore, a few photographs showing Plaintiff out socializing were not relevant. In denying Defendant’s request, Judge Wettick again uses the intrusion to value balancing test as defined in Rule 4011, which bars discovery requests that are unreasonable, an annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, burden, and/or expense.
You can view the text of Judge Wettick’s decision HERE.
The Decision appears to be in line with other Pennsylvania based Facebook discovery request cases, based on reasoning.