A Montgomery County judge has allowed a man claiming he was sucker-punched during a work-sponsored soccer game to investigate the Facebook page of his alleged attacker, ostensibly to find information to bolster his civil lawsuit.
Common Pleas Court Judge William R. Carpenter's ruling touches on a novel Facebook discovery request in that it was the plaintiff asking the court to turn over his opponent's log-in credentials. The judge ordered the alleged attacker to not delete or otherwise erase any information on his Facebook account.
According to a review of social media discovery cases covered by the Law Weekly , it has been defendants who traditionally move for Facebook information to jar claimants' credibility.
Gallagher v. Urbanovich appears to reflect different legal terrain. In the case, Nicholas Gallagher has claimed Matthew A. Urbanovich struck him in the face without provocation during an intramural soccer game between the two men's employers.
Urbanovich, who works for financial services firm J.G. Wentworth, according to Gallagher's motion to compel discovery, was forced to give Gallagher's attorney his Facebook username, email address and password within 20 days of the court's Feb. 27 order. Gallagher also sued J.G. Wentworth.
According to attorneys, Urbanovich handed over his log-in information as ordered by the court. However, the seven-day window in which Carpenter granted Gallagher access to the profile has closed, meaning Urbanovich can change his password to something his opponent doesn't know.
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By Ben Present