Social Media Interrogatories

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LNCtips.com: Social Media Interrogatories


Social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, is important to many of us.  In fact, according to the Pew Research Internet Project, 73% of all adults use social networking sites.  Social media sites are a boon to defendants in medical malpractice cases.  That's because plaintiff's' social media interactions can jeopardize their own cases.  How do defendants get the goods on plaintiffs?  They use social media interrogatories.

As you know, interrogatories are part of the discovery process in medical malpractice litigation.  The term "interrogatory" is a fancy word for "written question."  Both plaintiffs and defendants use interrogatories in medical malpractice cases.  However, social media interrogatories are usually directed to plaintiffs.  That's because many defendants, such as hospitals, carefully construct their online presence to prevent controversy or the appearance of negligence. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, often post information that is detrimental to their case. For example, I know of one plaintiff who made the allegation that she could barely walk due to medical negligence. However, her Facebook page showed a video of her dancing.

In these sample social media interrogatories, the attorney cites Florida Rules of Civil procedure.  When creating your own interrogatories, refer to the appropriate rule in your state for electronic discovery.  The sample interrogatories also refer to specific social media and networking websites.  Be aware that social media websites ebb and flow in their popularity.  Therefore, you may wish to modify the interrogatories to include the most popular websites at the time.  Although the interrogatories state that the social media websites aren't limited to named websites, it helps to provide some specific names of websites as examples.

If the plaintiff deletes social media content, it defeats the purpose of the interrogatories. Therefore, it's important to add a statement that specifies that the plaintiff must identify any deleted content.

Not all defendants choose to use social media interrogatories as the questions alert the plaintiff of a social media investigation.  To investigate a party's social media presence without using interrogatories, see Cyber Reputations.Whether using interrogatories or a less formal approach, investigation of social media sites is an important part of discovery in medical malpractice cases.

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...Katy Jones