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When Opposing Counsel Uses Your Facebook Friendship Against You

On the Abnormal Use blog Tuesday, editor Jim Dedman suggested that lawyers may need to start asking themselves the following question: "Will My Advocate Opponent Impeach Me With My Own Legal Social Media?" "Might some of our opinions or blog posts come back to haunt us?" he asked "Might an Internet savvy advocate quote our own posts against us in some future case?"

The article cited in the post was focused on the risk of an adversary scouring and scrutinizing a law blogger's posts "to see if her opponent has ever taken a position opposite to the one advanced against her in the case at hand." Today on Abnormal Use, a guest blogger named Stuart Mauney offered a real-world example of how one opposing counsel tried to use his Facebook "friendship" with Mauney to undercut Mauney and Mauney's client.

Mauney writes that he uses Facebook and has around 400 friends, rarely turning down any friend requests he might receive. Recently, he was engaged in a mediation with a plaintiffs attorney who sent Mauney a request to be his friend on Facebook about a month before the mediation session. Mauney accepted the request.

During the mediation, Mauney writes,

the Plaintiff's lawyer opened by saying that he did not think we were taking his client's case "seriously." In apparent support for that position, he actually projected onto the screen one of my very recent Facebook posts about my plans to celebrate my fiftieth birthday. (Yes, I recently turned 50.) The Plaintiff's lawyer said, "Maybe he was ready for this mediation last Wednesday before he started celebrating his weekend birthday, but ... " His sentence trailed off as if to suggest his doubt. He also commented that I had not been to any of the depositions in the case, as if sending my experienced senior associate to the depositions was in poor from. The associate was handling it under my close supervision. ...

Perhaps not unsurprisingly after this silly Facebook ambush, the mediation ended unsuccessfully. Mauney also "defriended" the plaintiffs lawyer.

What do you think? Is this a good example of the "perils of social media"? Or is this simply some bizarre, one-off behavior by plaintiffs counsel?

Posted by Bruce Carton on February 8, 2012 at 04:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)


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