Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff Suing Target Ordered to Disclose Facebook Photos

Jan. 9 — A Florida woman suing Target Corp. over alleged injuries she claims resulted from a slip-and-fall in the store has no expectation of privacy in her Facebook photos and therefore must comply with a discovery order, the Florida District Court of Appeal, Fourth District, ruled Jan. 7.

According to the ruling, counsel for Target said 36 photographs on plaintiff Maria F. Leon Nucci's Facebook account were gone two days after her deposition, in which she objected to disclosing her Facebook photographs. Target moved to compel production, and the trial court ordered that all photographs associated with her account for the prior two years be disclosed.

Nucci appealed, arguing that the order was an invasion of privacy. The court disagreed, holding that the photographs were relevant and not protected by any privacy right.

Picture ‘Worth a Thousand Words.'

Target argued that the photographs were relevant because surveillance video showed Nucci “carrying heavy bags, jugs of water, and doing other physical acts” that cast doubt on her personal injury claim. Judge Robert M. Gross agreed, writing that if “a photograph is worth a thousand words, there is no better portrayal of what an individual's life was like than those photographs the individual has chosen to share through social media before the occurrence of an accident causing injury.”

The court held that regardless of the Facebook privacy setting chosen by Nucci, her photos were neither privileged nor protected by any privacy right. It said the fact that Facebook friends may copy and disseminate information shared on Facebook meant any expectation of privacy wasn't reasonable.

Nucci also argued that her private posts were protected by the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. §§2701-2712, but the court said the federal law protected providers of communication services, not the individuals using those services.

Greenspoon Marder PA represented Nucci. Vernis & Bowling PA represented Target.