In Zimmerman v. Weis Markets, Inc., No. CV-09-1535  (Comm. Pleas Ct., Penn. May 19, 2011), Northumberland County Judge Charles H. Saylor granted Defendant’s Motion to Compel Disclosure and Preservation of Plaintiff’s Facebook and MySpace Information, ordering the plaintiff to preserve his social media website pages and provide all passwords, user names and log-in names for any and all MySpace and Facebook accounts to the defendant.

The plaintiff, an employee of the defendant’s subcontractor, brought this action to recover damages related to injuries he sustained while operating a forklift at the defendant’s warehouse.  After reviewing certain photographs and comments posted on the plaintiff’s publicly-available social media websites, the defendant requested access to the plaintiff’s private Facebook and MySpace pages to impeach statements made by the defendant during his deposition.  The plaintiff objected and argued the information was private and irrelevant.

The court disagreed.  Based on a review of the publicly accessible portions of the plaintiff’s Facebook and MySpace accounts, the court found there was a reasonable likelihood that relevant information would be contained in the non-public portions.  However, the court warned that its ruling should not be construed as an entitlement to social media information in every personal injury case absent some threshold showing that the publicly accessible portions of the social media website contain relevant information that would suggest further relevant postings are hidden from view.  The court contrasted its opinion from a nearby county court’s denial of a defendant’s request for access to photographs posted on the plaintiff’s Facebook page. See Piccolo v. Paterson [pdf], No. 2009-04979 (Pa. Ct. of Common Pleas May 5, 2011).