Daughter’s Facebook Posting Evidences Breach of Confidentiality Agreement
By Jamie Walson
Following a successful mediation with his former employer, Gulliver Preparatory School, Patrick Snay told his daughter that the case had settled and that he was happy with the result. His daughter then posted the following on Facebook, “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Thanks to her lack of discretion, Gulliver Prep is no longer obligated to pay Patrick Snay anything, much less the expense of a vacation to Europe. Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal held that the disclosure of the existence of a settlement to the Plaintiff’s daughter was a violation of the parties’ mediated settlement agreement. Gulliver Schools, Inc. v. Patrick Snay, 3D13-1952 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014) Adding insult to injury, it is the posting on Facebook that evidenced the violation.
The confidentiality provision of the mediated settlement agreement provided the following:
13. Confidentiality. . . [T]he plaintiff shall not either directly or
indirectly, disclose, discuss or communicate to any entity or person,
except his attorneys or other professional advisors or spouse any
information whatsoever regarding the existence or terms of this
Agreement. . . A breach . . .will result in disgorgement of the
Plaintiffs portion of the settlement Payments.
The moral of this story is two-fold: first, confidentiality provisions must be taken seriously, and second, parties to litigation need to be wary of the impacts of social media. Plaintiff’s temptation to disclose the settlement to his daughter is understandable, but it is predictable in this information age that the disclosure would end up on social media. The lesson is one that is hard learned, but can serve as a cautionary tale. Before disclosing any information about a settlement that you may enter into, you should discuss the permissibility of such disclosure with your attorney.