FACEBOOK LITIGATION

David A. Szwak:

‎”These actions share factual allegations that Facebook improperly tracked users’ internet activity after users had logged out of their Facebook accounts. Plaintiffs in all actions bring claims under the federal Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. §2511. Additional claims include violation of the Stored Electronic Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. §2701, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. §1030, as well as common law claims for intrusion upon seclusion/invasion of privacy, unjust enrichment, and trespass to chattels.” In re: £Facebook Internet Tracking Litigation, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2012 WL 432607, U.S.Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit.,2012

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SANCTIONS IN CASE INVOLVING FACEBOOK

http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&srchtype=discussedNews&gid=3229018&item=81435238&type=member&trk=eml-anet_dig-b_pd-ttl-cn&ut=1kukMUQqGBkR01

Client & Counsel Sanctioned for Spoliation where Plaintiff was Instructed to “Clean Up” His Facebook Page

Posted on November 18, 2011 by K&L Gates

 

Lester v. Allied Concrete Co., Nos. CL.08-150, CL09-223 (Va. Cir. Ct. Sept. 1, 2011); Lester v. Allied Concrete Co., Nos. CL08-150, CL09-223 (Va. Cir. Ct. Oct. 21, 2011)

In this case, significant monetary sanctions were ordered against the plaintiff and his counsel for egregious discovery violations, including intentional deletion of pictures on Plaintiff’s Facebook page per the instructions of Counsel and subsequent efforts to cover those instructions up, among

others.

In this wrongful death case, Defendants sought production related to the contents of Plaintiff’s Facebook page, which were presumably relevant to the question of damages suffered by Plaintiff as the result of the tragic death of his wife.  Attached to the request was a picture of the plaintiff “clutching a beer can, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with ‘I ♥ hot moms’ and in the company of other young adults.”  Plaintiff’s counsel (with the assistance of his paralegal) determined that the photo likely came from Facebook.  Accordingly, Counsel accessed Plaintiff’s Facebook account and thereafter directed his paralegal to instruct Plaintiff to “clean it up” because “we don’t want blowups of this stuff at trial.”

Because the request for production specifically asked for the contents of Plaintiff’s account “on the day this request is signed,” Counsel also instructed Plaintiff to deactivate his account.  Plaintiff’s response to the request for production, therefore, was that he had no Facebook account on the day the request was signed.  The response was also signed by Counsel.  Thereafter, upon being advised that he was obligated to produce the Facebook materials, Counsel instructed his client (through his paralegal) to reactivate the account.  Plaintiff complied, and following the prior instruction to “clean up” his account, deleted 16 photos before the contents were printed for production by the paralegal (who claimed not to know of the deletions, as did Counsel).

Later, testifying under oath, Plaintiff stated that he had never deactivated his account.

For reasons unknown, Plaintiff’s counsel later forwarded to the defense Plaintiff’s Facebook IP logs which he had acquired directly from Facebook.  Upon examination of the logs, experts for both sides agreed that 16 photos had been deleted.  Accordingly, the court ordered that an adverse inference instruction be given to the jury at trial.

Before trial, Defendants served the above mentioned paralegal with a subpoena duces tecumcommanding production of all emails between herself and the plaintiff during the timeframe of the spoliation.  The attendant privilege log and in camera production to the court omitted mention of the email in which the paralegal first instructed Plaintiff to delete photos from his account.  The email was not disclosed until after trial, with the explanation that the omission was the fault of a different paralegal no longer with Counsel’s firm “when, in fact, [Counsel] knew his own misconduct caused the omission.”

At trial, Plaintiff was awarded a significant sum.  Thereafter, Defendants filed several post-trial motions, including a Motion for Sanctions against Plaintiff and Counsel for the above-detailed behavior (among other reasons).

The court concluded that the actions of Counsel and the plaintiff warranted sanctions.  Specifically, Counsel was ordered to pay monetary sanctions equal to the “reasonable expenses, including a reasonable attorneys fee, incurred by Defendants because of [Counsel’s] violation” of court rules by signing the dishonest discovery response.  For Counsel’s omission of the incriminating email from his spoliation privilege log and in cameraproduction and for Counsel’s dishonesty regarding the cause of the omission, the court ordered him to pay monetary sanctions equal to the “reasonable expenses, including a reasonable attorneys fee” incurred by the defendants as the result of his misconduct.  Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions as to Plaintiff was also granted with the amount of the sanction to be determined.

Later, upon submission of Defendants’ Memoranda of Costs and Fees, the court issued a final order containing the specific amounts to be paid: Counsel was ordered to pay $542,000 and Plaintiff was ordered to pay $180,000.  The court also indicated its intent to refer Counsel’s violations of the Code of Professional Responsibilty to the Virginia State Bar and to refer “matters relating to allegations of perjury on the party of [Plaintiff] to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City ofCharlotte.”

Copies of the court’s relevant orders are available here and here.

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JUSTICE ROBERTS LOVES OBAMACARE

http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/charles-krauthammer/charles-krauthammer-why-roberts-ruled-as-he-did/article_1821c5b1-3266-5be0-86a3-d224ea9a20ed.html

Charles Krauthammer • letters@charleskrauthammer.com | Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2012 12:00 am | (Loading…) comments.

It’s the judiciary’s Nixon-to-China: Chief Justice John Roberts joins the liberal wing of the Supreme Court and upholds the constitutionality of Obamacare. How? By pulling off one of the great constitutional finesses of all time. He managed to uphold the central conservative argument against Obamacare, while at the same time finding a narrow definitional dodge to uphold the law — and thus prevented the court from being seen as having overturned, presumably on political grounds, the signature legislation of this administration.

Why did he do it? Because he carries two identities. Jurisprudentially, he is a constitutional conservative. Institutionally, he is chief justice and sees himself as uniquely entrusted with the custodianship of the court’s legitimacy, reputation and stature.
As a conservative, he is as appalled as his conservative colleagues by the administration’s central argument that Obamacare’s individual mandate is a proper exercise of its authority to regulate commerce.
That makes congressional power effectively unlimited. Mr. Jones is not a purchaser of health insurance. Mr. Jones has therefore manifestly not entered into any commerce. Yet Congress tells him he must buy health insurance — on the grounds that it is regulating commerce. If government can do that under the Commerce Clause, what can it not do?
“The Framers … gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it,” writes Roberts. Otherwise you “undermine the principle that the Federal Government is a government of limited and enumerated powers.”
That’s Roberts, philosophical conservative. But he lives in uneasy coexistence with Roberts, custodian of the court, acutely aware that the judiciary’s arrogation of power has eroded the esteem in which it was once held. Most of this arrogation occurred under the liberal Warren and Burger courts, most egregiously with Roe v. Wade, which willfully struck down the duly passed abortion laws of 46 states. The result has been four decades of popular protest and resistance to an act of judicial arrogance that, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “deferred stable settlement of the issue” by the normal electoral/legislative process.
More recently, however, few decisions have occasioned more bitterness and rancor than Bush v. Gore, a 5-4 decision split along ideological lines. It was seen by many (principally, of course, on the left) as a political act disguised as jurisprudence and designed to alter the course of the single most consequential political act of a democracy — the election of a president.
Whatever one thinks of the substance of Bush v. Gore, it did affect the reputation of the court. Roberts seems determined that there be no recurrence with Obamacare. Hence his straining in his Obamacare ruling to avoid a similar result — a 5-4 decision split along ideological lines that might be perceived as partisan and political.
National health care has been a liberal dream for a hundred years. It is clearly the most significant piece of social legislation in decades. Roberts’ concern was that the court do everything it could to avoid being seen, rightly or wrongly, as high-handedly overturning sweeping legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.
How to reconcile the two imperatives — one philosophical and the other institutional? Assign yourself the task of writing the majority opinion. Find the ultimate finesse that manages to uphold the law, but only on the most narrow of grounds — interpreting the individual mandate as merely a tax, something generally within the power of Congress.
Result? The law stands, thus obviating any charge that a partisan court overturned duly passed legislation. And yet at the same time the Commerce Clause is reined in. By denying that it could justify the imposition of an individual mandate, Roberts draws the line against the inexorable decades-old expansion of congressional power under the Commerce Clause fig leaf.
Law upheld, Supreme Court’s reputation for neutrality maintained. Commerce Clause contained, constitutional principle of enumerated powers reaffirmed.
That’s not how I would have ruled. I think the “mandate is merely a tax” argument is a dodge, and a flimsy one at that. (The “tax” is obviously punitive, regulatory and intended to compel.) Perhaps that’s not how Roberts would have ruled had he been just an associate justice, and not the chief. But that’s how he did rule.
Obamacare is now essentially upheld. There’s only one way it can be overturned. The same way it was passed — elect a new president and a new Congress. That’s undoubtedly what Roberts is saying: Your job, not mine. I won’t make it easy for you.
Copyright The Washington Post
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Posted in Charles-krauthammer on Sunday, July 1, 2012 12:00 am Updated: 6:10 pm. | Tags:

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