James Leito

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Social Media Stars and Defamation

This blog recently discussed regular people who have become internet sensations through the use of social media. Chiara Ferragni, for example, started a fashion blog in 2009. She is now a multimillionaire with approximately 5,000,000 Instagram followers.  Tay Zonday posted his song “Chocolate Rain” on YouTube in 2007, which led to numerous appearances on daytime … Continue reading

Legal blogs and protected speech

In Huon v. Breaking Media, LLC, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held that federal law protects internet publishers from defamation claims based on content posted by commenters to online news stories (See Memorandum Opinion and Order, No. 1:11-cv-03054 (Dec. 4, 2014)). In Huon, the plaintiff sued the popular online legal blog … Continue reading

Pre-suit discovery on social media

A Kings County, New York court has held that a plaintiff may obtain social media information (such as another’s user information and evidence posted through social media) as part of pre-suit discovery under New York law. This decision could have ramifications in a number of jurisdictions that permit pre-suit discovery to preserve evidence and/or obtain … Continue reading

eDiscovery and private social media accounts

The United States District Court for the District of Kansas recently clarified the scope of discoverable information from private social media accounts. In Stonebarger v. Union Pacific Corp., a wrongful death case where plaintiffs were seeking to recover damages for the deaths of two individuals killed in a collision, the defendants requested two types of … Continue reading

Social media authentica-tion issues

The Mississippi Supreme Court recently set forth a standard for authentication of social media profiles and messages. In Smith v. State, 2012-CT-00218-SCT (Miss. 2014), the court addressed the admissibility of Facebook messages purportedly sent by the defendant in a capital murder case. According to the prosecution, the defendant exchanged several Facebook messages with his wife … Continue reading

Jurors and social media

A recent article published in the Duke Law and Technology Review sheds new light on the jury’s use (or more precisely, lack of use) of social media when given proper instructions from the Court. (See Amy J. St. Eve, et al., More from the #Jury Box: The Latest on Juries and Social Media, 12 Duke … Continue reading

Identifying anonymous reviewers

On January 7, 2014, a majority of a Virginia appellate court held that a social media provider can be required to disclose the identity of its anonymous users. See Yelp, Inc. v. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning, Inc., No. 0116-13-4 (Va. Ct. App. Jan. 7, 2014). A Virginia carpet cleaning business had subpoenaed from Yelp the identity of … Continue reading

SPEECH Act – US and Canadian defamation standards

In a case of first impression, the Fifth Circuit recently applied the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act (“SPEECH Act”) to protect a blogger from a defamation-based default judgment obtained in Canada.  28 U.S.C. § 4201; Trout Point Lodge, Ltd. v. Handshoe, No. 13-60002 (5th Cir. Sept. 5, 2013). The plaintiffs had … Continue reading

Shared Social Media Accounts

A court in the Eastern District of Texas recently held that two companies were “integrated employers” under the Family Medical Leave Act, in part, because the two companies shared a Facebook page. Dooling v. Bank of the West, No. 4:11-cv-00576 (E.D. Tex. July 17, 2013) (Bush, Mag. J.). This conclusion allowed the plaintiff to establish her … Continue reading

Social Media and Anti-SLAPP Cases

In a recent defamation case where the defendant sought anti-SLAPP protection related to internet forum posts about the plaintiffs, a federal district court recognized that social-media speech is no different from “traditional” speech. See Piping Rock Partners, Inc. v. David Lerner Assocs., Inc., No. C 12-04634 SI (N.D. Cal. May 17, 2013) (Illston, J.). “SLAPP” is an … Continue reading
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