Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Judge orders Facebook photos revealed in slip-and-fall lawsuit

Social media and other electronic communications are playing an increasingly important role in courts in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. In particular, a court may seek information such as pictures or postings from a defendant's or plaintiff's social media accounts.

That happened recently in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where a personal injury lawsuit is unfolding. The plaintiff says she was in a hospital elevator when a slippery substance on the floor caused her to fall.

Her back and knee were badly injured, according to the lawsuit, and the required surgery is beyond her financial means. The lawsuit names Hospital Housekeeping Systems and Lancaster Regional Medical Center as defendants. A news report doesn't indicate the amount of compensation sought by the plaintiff.

What is clear is that the judge hearing the case is interested in seeing what the defense says are pictures and videos of the plaintiff playing in some snow. The images are said to have appeared on the woman's Facebook page within 17 days after she says she was injured.

The defendants, who were told by the judge to pay the cost of hiring a "neutral forensic computer expert," claim the images prove that the plaintiff was acting in a way that did not indicate that she was seriously injured.

The plaintiff, however, says the images were taken prior to her the slip and fall.

It will be interesting to see if the results of the forensic investigation reveal anything about when the images were recorded. Readers in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas may want to keep an eye on this case as it moves forward.

Source: ABA Journal, "Parties in slip-and-fall case ordered to hire neutral expert to probe plaintiff's Facebook page," Rachel M. Zahorsky, May 22, 2013

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