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Social Media as Evidence in Business Litigation Trials

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2014 | Business Litigation

Buffington Law Firm’s experienced business litigation attorneys have broad experience in utilizing social media and other electronic communications such as emails as evidence in civil trials. There is a strong trend for Facebook posts, You-Tube videos, and other similar media to turn up as critical evidence at trial. Jonathan Gruber, a high profile “architect of Obamacare” was recently caught on video admitting that he and his associates deliberately deceived the American people into believing that Obamacare was not a tax, boasting that it was in fact a tax that Americans failed to perceive as such due to their financial “illiteracy”. Other videos by Professor Gruber show him discussing the “stupidity” of the American people and explaining that this “stupidity” allowed Professor Gruber and his confederates to use deceit and smoke-and-mirror tactics to pass Obamacare. Without these, Professor Gruber admits on one shocking video “the bill dies.” Gruber justified his deceit by explaining that he believed in Obamacare and wanted to see the bill pass.  Gruber’s compromising and indiscreet videos have gone “viral” and millions of Americans have watched him make his shocking comments.

Gruber reportedly was paid millions of dollars to design Obamacare and help get it passed. What would motivate a highly-compensated undoubtedly smart (at least in some ways) member of the intelligentsia to allow compromising videos of this sort to be posted on social media? Or anywhere for that matter? What indeed? And yet it happens, not only in politics but also in the context of business disputes and civil litigation.

Experienced litigation attorneys know that in many types of litigation the social media postings of the other side can constitute compromising, critical evidence at trial. One of the first things that attorneys should do when investigating a case is to ensure that the litigation team review all emails involving the opposition. Attorneys should obtain, if available, the opposition’s recent Facebook posts. Google searches often uncover compromising relevant evidence such as You-Tube videos, Twitter posts, and the like.  Angry text messages from the opposition often constitute evidence.  Buffington Law Firm’s business litigation attorneys have noted an increasing trend for email and social media materials to constitute the critical evidence in civil trials.

In one high-dollar executive wrongful termination case that Buffington Law Firm took to Arbitration an employee denied that he had resigned, claiming instead that he had been fired. Unfortunately for his side, he had published a Facebook post that said otherwise. The Arbitrator cited this in the Statement of Decision that denied the employee’s claims. While not as dramatic as the Jonathan Gruber scandal, this intemperate Facebook post was decisive in losing the executive’s case for him.

Social media is a fine thing when used properly, but it can turn up as admissible evidence and sink cases. If you are involved in a business dispute, rather than discuss it on social media we urge you to contact Buffington Law Firm for a free, no-obligation consultation. In this meeting you will speak directly with one of our experienced business litigation attorneys and the attorney-client privilege attaches to the entire discussion.