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In the Era of Facebook and Twitter, you have to be careful with your Lawsuits!

This is an era where the use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., is rampant, and our youth share many aspects of their life with their friends via the web.  They post everything about their life, including, sometimes, unfortunately, pictures. This change in the way we communicate has defense attorneys salivating.

The problem is that all these internet postings are forever "out there", and thus discoverable by defense lawyers when they want to dig up dirt or evidence that will take away from your credibility in any lawsuit you might have.

This problem occurred in a Lemon Law case of mine where the client's vehicle had a significant gear shifting problem that Kia could not fix.  We filed suit under the Virginia Lemon Law.  Once I was hired I advised the client not to take it in anymore for repairs for this problem since we would be getting a refund and needed to prove it was currently defective. However, the teenage son (who was the primary driver of the car Mom and Dad bought for him), decided he could do whatever he wanted with it, and not only raced it several times at a racetrack, but had his races videotaped, and then posted them on his Facebook page.  Yes, the videos were cool, but the defense attorney discovered this on her own (because a person at the track worked for the local Kia dealership). The defense then had a field day, saying the problems were caused by his racing, and, as evidenced by the race videos, argued that this is how he drove the car every day, and thus the problem was from his abuse.  We had to drop the case.  The son was not feeling so cool at that point!

I think this problem pre-existed the racing and was not caused by the son, however, the client did not want to risk the expense of going all the way to trial and thus lost about $25,000 in the case. 

Moral?  DO NOT POST anything about any part of a lawsuit you have.  It will be discovered either by accident, as is this case, or in the discovery process when the defendant attorney asks for all internet postings regarding your vehicle.  If you want to say something about the defects in a forum of some sort, at least be sure you tell the truth and do not say anything that could hurt your case.  My advice is to not say anything until the case is over, and then "let it all out" as long as what you say is true.

John C. Gayle, Jr.
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Consumer Law Pioneer and Co-Author of Virginia's Lemon Law