A personal injury lawsuit settled out of court after a Canadian judge ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer to seize her Facebook photos through a third party.
The plaintiff, Erica Sparks, got injured in a 2008 car accident and sued the other driver, according to CBC.
The defendant’s insurer fought the claim and apparently the attorney asked the judge to see Sparks’ Facebook photos to suss out how severely she was injured.
Judge Fred Ferguson of New Brunswick’s Court of Queen’s Bench figured that Sparks would delete her photos her profile if she knew that the counterparties in her lawsuit wanted to see the images, and came up with a plan some of us might consider sketchy behavior for someone in the legal profession.
Ferguson asked the plaintiff’s attorney to hire another lawyer to invite Sparks to a meeting without explaining the purpose to her. Upon their meeting up, that hired party was supposed to tell her she was under a court order to log on to Facebook and immediately hand over her photos.
Not surprisingly, the plaintiff’s attorney decided to appeal the judge’s order rather than comply with it. And that’s when the insurance company wisely decided to settle the case with a generous cash award for Sparks. She never had to show any of her Facebook photos to a court, nor did she have the opportunity to delete them.
But let’s back up a moment here: Why didn’t the plaintiff’s attorney consult Sparks about the content of her Facebook profile before proceeding with the lawsuit? We understand that many people upload pictures of injuries to the site in order to obtain support from friends during times of healing. But the fact that the judge knew the plaintiff had images of her injuries on the social network suggests that she may not have applied any privacy settings to the photos at first, but possibly changed them later.