Facebook Fishing a No-No: Dosanjh v. LeBlanc and St. Paul’s Hospital

by John McKiggan

Use of Facebook in Litigation Increasing

I’ve posted before about how defence counsel in personal injury claims have routinely requesting disclosure of plaintiff’s Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and otheon linene social media platforms. See for example:

Court Orders Lawyer to Mislead Client to get Access to Facebook – Sparks v. Dubé

Insurers May Be Using Facebook to Underwrite Policies

Social Networking and Personal Injury Claims

Courts across Canada have shown they are willing to order production of informaon linerom online social media accounts if defendants can prove the relevance of the material.

No Fishing

However, a recent case in B.C. provides some helpful direction regarding the limits to these types of intrusive requests by defence counsel.

In Dosanjh v. LeBlanc and St. Paul’s Hospital the plaintiff sued her doctors and nursing staff at St. Paul’s Hospital for injuries she claimed to have suffered during open heart surgery.

Ms. Dosanjh suffered a stroke during surgery that left her with significant cognitive and physical disabilities.

Counsel for the hospital filed a motion in the Supreme Court of British Columbia requesting that the plaintiff produce copies of her Facebook and Twitter accounts. The hospital’s lawyers said that the information in the accounts was relevant because the plaintiff had put her health, enjoyment of life and employability at issue in the trial.

The court dismissed the defendant’s motion stating that it was too broad and lacked focus. The judge hearing the motion described the request as a “classic fishing expedition”.

What Does it Mean?

As I have pointed out before, Defendants have been aggressively searching out evidence on the web that they can use to defend plaintiff’s claims. This includes information published on line in any kind of public social networking site.

Plaintiffs in medical malpractice claims (in fact in any type of civil suit) should be aware that the information they are posting on line may be seen not only be their “friends” or “followers” but could end up being examined by lawyers, judges or jurors.

So remember: Caveat Amicum (friender beware).

Comments are closed.