Why would a defendant litigate over four and a half years, finish conducting discovery, tell a court that it’s ready for trial, and then – only then – ask a plaintiff to admit that he posted photographs on Facebook and other social media sites?
That is the question answered in a recent New York decision by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Hector D. LaSalle. The case, Guzman v. Farrell Building Co., et al, highlights the consequences for a defendant who wants access to a plaintiff’s Facebook account after filing a note of issue and certificate of readiness to confirm that it is ready for trial.
Plaintiff Samuel Guzman, a construction worker, sued defendant general contractor Farrell Building Co. in early 2006 under New York Labor Law §240(1) for injuries he reportedly sustained in a two-story fall while at work building a home in the Hamptons. Cases filed under Labor Law § 240(1) impose strict liability against defendants found responsible for making sure that safety equipment is in place and operational in order to protect construction workers.
Four and a half years later, the GC informed the court that it completed discovery. It did this by filing a note of issue and certificate of readiness for trial. Soon after submitting this filing, however, the GC claimed its investigator had now found “several hundred photographs of the plaintiff that were posted to Internet media websites such as Facebook,” and others, that it believed were helpful to its case.