Social Media Search Ordered In Denny’s Personal Injury Suit

Denny’s Inc. can get social media discovery in a slip and fall case, after a federal magistrate judge said that the plaintiff must let her attorneys search through her social media accounts and hand over relevant information.

Monica Hinostroza alleges that she was injured at a Denny’s restaurant. During discovery, Denny’s sought her social media information from five years prior to the accident to the present.

Social media information is relevant because it is “reflective of an individual’s contemporaneous emotions and mental state,” Magistrate Judge Nancy J. Koppe, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, said June 29.

“One moment of happiness illustrated by social media, however, does not undermine a party’s claims,” Koppe said. “Therefore, social media discovery must allow the requesting party a sufficient sample size from which a potential pattern of content could reveal an emotional or mental state or physical capability that undermines a party’s claim.”

Hinostroza must identify all of her social media accounts, and allow her counsel to review postings, communications, and messages from the period of one year prior to the accident to the present, Koppe said.

Plaintiff’s counsel will then be required to disclose all information “which references the alleged accident, is relevant to Plaintiff’s claims, and exhibits Plaintiff’s emotional or mental state, expressions, and reactions related to the alleged accident,” she said.

However, the court declined to rule on whether Hinostroza must disclose data from Fitbit or other activity tracker devices. Instead, Hinostroza must provide more information about whether such data is in her possession, Koppe said.

The case is Hinostroza v. Denny’s Inc., D. Nev., 2:17-cv-02561-RFB-NJK, 6/29/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Greene in Washington at mgreene@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: S. Ethan Bowers at sbowers@bloomberglaw.com