Client Loses Settlement After Facebook Post -- 3 Lessons for Lawyers
There's been a lot of news about kids getting into trouble on social media -- so much so that California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would allow minors to erase their Internet history. But what about when your kids post about their parents' lives?
Patrick Snay learned the hard way that his daughter's Facebook posts can haunt him too.
The "SUCK IT" Facebook Post
Patrick Snay brought an age discrimination and retaliation claim against his former employer, Gulliver Preparatory School, which resulted in an $80,000 settlement, reports the Miami Herald. A few days later, Snay's daughter posted the following message on Facebook to her 1,200 friends: "Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT."
The school, and its attorneys, upon learning about the post heard round the world, let Mr. Snay know that they would not be paying the settlement because the confidentiality agreement had been breached, reports The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Snay sued to enforce the settlement, and won, but the school won on appeal, according to the Miami Herald.
Lessons for Lawyers
The case above is a prime example of what not to do on social media. In this age of oversharing online, it's especially important for lawyers, and their clients to be cognizant of what they decide to publicize online.
1. Stay off of Social Media
As far as lawyers go, it's safe to say that you (and your kids) should stay offline regarding any pending projects or litigation. There are so many things to consider including ethics, confidentiality and professional image. Just don't.
As Mr. Snay learned the hard way, clients are subject to confidentiality too in certain instances, such as settlement agreements with confidentiality clauses. Be sure to advise clients, and remind them, that posting something on social media regarding a settlement or litigation, can be ruinous.
Maybe your client waits until they get a fat check before posting online? That's still problematic. After one woman posted an image on Facebook of her cash winnings from a civil suit, her home was robbed, with the thieves demanding to know where the cash was. For the safety of your clients, tell them not to publicize wads of cash on social media.
We're guessing the trip to Europe (and maybe a college fund?) is probably a no-go for the Snays now. To avoid the same fate, use social media for marketing, not for bragging.
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