A New Jersey appeals court will decide whether the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) has the legal right to file ethics grievances against two defense lawyers who used instructed a paralegal to “friend” the plaintiff in a personal injury case on Facebook to gather information about him, and whether the judges themselves even have the authority to get tangled in the dispute.
In 2007, an Oakland, New Jersey, man filed a lawsuit alleging that he was doing push-ups in the driveway of the local firehouse when he was struck by a police officer’s cruiser. The man suffered a fractured femur that required multiple surgeries. The defense lawyers in the case had a paralegal “friend” the plaintiff on Facebook to gain information about him, court documents obtained by the New Jersey Law Journal show. The plaintiff’s attorney discovered the scheme following a deposition in which one of the accused defense lawyers asked the plaintiff about travel, dancing and other activities they believed would show the plaintiff was overstating the seriousness of his injuries. The police officer’s attorney also supplied amended answers to interrogatories, accompanied by conversations, photos and a video of the plaintiff wrestling with his brothers that were posted on the Facebook pages of the plaintiff and his friends. More New Jersey Defense Attorneys who Used Facebook to Gather Information on a Victim in a Personal Injury Suit Face Ethics Charges