411: The Risk of Not Keeping “Confidential” Settlements Confidential

Mar. 28th, 2014   /  

As one Miami family just found out, one single post on a Facebook page can cost $80,000.00.

As experienced personal injury attorneys, our lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green are knowledgeable at handling cases in which our client has incurred an injury due to the recklessness or negligence of another. In most instances, our lawyers are able to reach a settlement agreement with the opposing party before the case actually goes to trial. Many settlement agreements include language stipulating that the settlement is confidential and that violating said confidentiality is a breach of contract, thereby nullifying the agreement.

So, if you reach a settlement agreement with the other party, with whom can you discuss it? Typically, these settlement agreements allow for a discussion of the terms of the agreement to take place between the plaintiff and his/her attorneys and/or the plaintiff and others professional advisors. So, who is not entitled to know the terms of a settlement agreement? This varies from settlement to settlement, but among others many, random individuals on the Internet are barred from the knowledge of confidential settlements.

A 69-year-old Miami man filed an age discrimination lawsuit after the contract allowing for his leadership position at a Gulliver school was not renewed. After years of legal footwork, the two parties in the case came to an agreement by way of a confidential settlement. Apparently, the daughter of the plaintiff took it upon herself to inform all of her friends and those who have access to her Facebook page of the news, too.

The plaintiff’s daughter went on Facebook and posted a “status update” which included the following: “Mama and Papa … won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Whether or not the plaintiff’s daughter knew of the confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement was and remains irrelevant. The status update spread to the girl’s 1,200+ Facebook friends, many of who were and are part of or connected to the Gulliver community. As a result, Gulliver officials found out about the Facebook post, which served as evidence of a breach of the confidentiality agreement. This particular settlement agreement said that the man who filed the suit could only discuss the settlement with his wife, his lawyers, and other professional advisors, according to this CNN article. Knowledge of the settlement terms was not supposed to be provided to the couple’s daughter, and it was certainly not allowed to be broadcast on the world’s most popular social networking site.

Gulliver Schools consequently sent a letter to the plaintiff and his attorneys, stating that because he violated the terms of the settlement, he would not be receiving the settlement amount, which would have been $80,000.00.

For more information on this legal issue or others, reach out to us at the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg. You can contact us by calling 561-266-9191 or by emailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com

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