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Offenback v. Bowman, 10-Cv-1789 (M.D. Pa. June 22, 2011)

Offenback v. Bowman, 10-Cv-1789 (M.D. Pa. June 22, 2011)

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Court conducts in camera review of plaintiff's Facebook page and finds certain items properly discoverable.
Court conducts in camera review of plaintiff's Facebook page and finds certain items properly discoverable.

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Published by: Venkat Balasubramani on Jun 24, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The District Court has referred the above-captioned action to the undersignedfor the purposes of conducting an
in camera
review of Plaintiff’s Facebook andMySpace accounts in order to determine whether certain information containedwithin Plaintiff’s accounts is properly subject to discovery in this case. (Doc. 19.)The Court subsequently held a telephonic case management conference with the parties to address the discovery dispute, and directed Plaintiff to provide the Courtwith the log-in information for his Facebook and MySpace accounts. Plaintiff subsequently provided this information to the Court with respect to his Facebook account, and represented that he could no longer locate information related to hisMySpace account, since he had neither activated nor used the account since November 2008. Plaintiff conceded that limited public information contained withinhis Facebook account was properly subject to discovery, provided that the
Case 1:10-cv-01789-CCC Document 25 Filed 06/22/11 Page 1 of 8
information could be considered relevant in accordance with Rule 26 of the FederalRules of Civil Procedure.As the party requesting the discovery from Plaintiff’s social media accounts,Defendants provided the Court with the following summary of the case and of theissues they believed to be relevant to the Court’s review:This action arises from a vehicular accident that occurredon November 6, 2008. Plaintiff claims that he suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result of thataccident.His claimed physical injuries include claims of rightshoulder and lower back injuries. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s physical capabilities and activities are relevant to thereview.Plaintiff alleges that his claimed physical injuries limitedhis ability to sit, walk, stand, ride in a vehicle, bend, stoop, push, pull, and lift. He claimed that he could not drive for any period of time and is physically limited as to riding his bicycle or motorcycle.Plaintiff also claims that he suffered psychological injuriesas a result of the accident. He claims that he suffersanxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder asa result.Plaintiff alleges that the psychological conditions resultedin decreased sociability and lack of intimacy. He allegesthat he is fearful and nervous in traffic and around other vehicles. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s social activities,
Case 1:10-cv-01789-CCC Document 25 Filed 06/22/11 Page 2 of 8
transportation related activities, and expressions of emotion are relevant to this review.Plaintiff also contends that is [sic] cannot work as a resultof the physical and psychological injuries he claims fromthis accident. It is noted that Plaintiff purchased a propertyin Kentucky prior to the accident. He had planned torelocate to his employer’s facility near the Kentucky property, but this possibility evaporated [due] to hisemployer’s economic situation. Thus, information as toPlaintiff’s relocation and plans are relevant to hismotivation in this matter.(Letter from Defendants’ counsel to the Court dated May 2, 2011.)The Court has carefully reviewed the allegations set forth in Plaintiff’scomplaint, as well as other filings in this action, so as to ascertain the claims anddefenses at issue. In addition, the Court has considered the parties’ competing lettersin which they explain their respective positions regarding Defendants’ assertion thatPlaintiff’s Facebook account may contain discoverable information under Rule 26(b)of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Informed by this review of the pleadings
Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure supplies the scope
and limitations governing the use of discovery in a federal civil action:(1) Scope in General. Unless otherwise limited by courtorder, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties mayobtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter thatis relevant to any party’s claim or defense – including theexistence, description, nature, custody, condition, andlocation of any documents or other tangible things and theidentity and location of persons who know of any
Case 1:10-cv-01789-CCC Document 25 Filed 06/22/11 Page 3 of 8

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