By: Nathan Geronimo

A few months ago I wrote about the dangers of posting information online that contradicted your own contentions when involved in litigation.  I cited to cases where posts on social networking sites were used as evidence against plaintiffs in civil cases.  A recent case involving blogs and social networking sites illustrates yet another legal issue associated with internet posts in the modern times: Posts affecting a third party’s privacy, and the possibility that such posts can be considered harassment.

Johnson v. Arlotta is a classic “jilted lover” story with a modern twist.  Andrew Arlotta and Ann Marie Johnson had a romantic relationship for just under a year.  After this relationship terminated, Arlotta continued to contact Johnson, who did not welcome Arlotta’s communications.  In late December 2009, Johnson obtained a six-month harassment restraining order against Arlotta, which prohibited Arlotta from committing any acts intended to adversely affect Johnson’s safety or privacy, and from having any contact with Johnson by email or by other means or persons.


Continue Reading Don’t Blog on Me

By Nathan Geronimo

People are better connected with friends and family than ever before.  Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be an excellent way to stay in touch with loved ones, and to get daily updates of people’s lives.  Similarly, through sites such as YouTube, people are able to share videos and information with others almost instantaneously.  While these sites can be great to disseminate images and information to a desired audience, they can also make information readily available to audiences that are less desirable to, and not contemplated by the poster.  There has been a great deal of buzz in recent years about employers using social media sites to perform “background checks” on prospective employees, and warning job applicants to be conscious of this fact when posting on social media sites.  In addition to this concern, recent cases illustrate a possible new concern for social media posters: use of social media posts in litigation.

In a recent decision in Louisiana, Boudwin v. General Ins. Co., Plaintiffs sued an individual and an insurance company based on alleged injuries arising out of a car accident.  In the lower Court, Plaintiff’s prevailed on the question of liability, but were unsatisfied with the jury awards of $25, 000 to the first Plaintiff, and $50,000 to the second Plaintiff.  On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the jury erred in failing to award them any damages for physical disability or loss of enjoyment of life.  To recover based on a theory of detrimental lifestyle change, a court looks at both the severity of the injury, and Plaintiff’s lifestyle prior to the injury.


Continue Reading Involved in Litigation? Be Careful What You Post Online

By: Audrey Millemann and Etan Zaitsu

The federal Stored Communications Act (SCA) of 1986 was established in an attempt to give Fourth Amendment-type privacy protections to people for their Internet communications. In other words, Congress sought to protect people’s Internet privacy from warrantless intrusion.


Continue Reading Social Networking Websites – Just How Private Are they?

By: Jeffrey Pietsch and Etan Zaitsu, second year law student at McGeorge School of Law

Thinking of running a smear campaign against a business competitor? Thinking of posting disparaging content about someone anonymously online? Think again. According to a decision made by the Ninth Circuit on July 12, 2010, anonymous online postings may not qualify as protected speech under the First Amendment.


Continue Reading Anonymous Online Video and Blog Posters Beware

by Dale C. Campbell, David Muradyan* and Sara Davidson*

Is the work product of an attorney always protected? No, according to the First Circuit in a decision which may draw the attention of the U. S. Supreme Court. The First Circuit, sitting en banc (the “Court”) ruled that the attorney work product doctrine did not protect tax accrual work papers prepared by in-house attorneys to support defendant Textron Inc.’s (“Textron”) calculation of tax reserves. United States v. Textron Inc., 577 F.3d 21 (1st Cir. 2009). Practitioners, especially in-house counsel, need to be aware of this decision and determine whether it influences how they practice.

 


Continue Reading The First Circuit Takes a Novel View of the Attorney Work Product Privilege