Breach of Confidentiality Agreement Costs Family Settlement Money
In an odd twist of events, a Facebook post ended up costing a family $80,000 from a prior settlement. A case from Coral Gables made national headlines when a Plaintiff’s daughter posted on Facebook the regarding a confidential settlement.
Patrick Snay was the former head at Gulliver Preparatory School in Coral Gables, Florida. In 2010, his contract was not renewed and he filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the school. That case settled in November 2011 for $80,000 in return for a confidentiality agreement. Four days after the agreement was signed, Mr. Snay’s daughter posted: “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” That Facebook post made its way back to the Gulliver attorneys, and they enforced the confidentiality clause and revoked the settlement.
Over the past 3 years, the case had traveled its way through the court system, and the Third District Court of Appeals for Florida issued its opinion on the matter. The Court held that there was no ambiguity in the confidentiality clause – both Mr. and Mrs. Snay were to not disclose to anyone the terms of the agreement. By telling their daughter, who subsequently informed all 1,100 Facebook friends of the settlement, they breached the settlement agreement and lost out on $80,000.
Many injured people are not aware of the extensive agreements, rules, and obligations that come with settling a case. When you settle a case, you are in essence agreeing that you are waiving your rights make another claim against the at-fault party. When settlements are for a significant amount of money, many times the insurance companies and attorneys want to make sure any amounts are kept confidential and secret. Take for example the confidentiality agreement in the Snay’s settlement:
“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 agreement is considered a contract and breaching a contract can lead to voiding the entire agreement and obligation of the parties. Confidentiality Agreements as part of settlements are a mainstay in the personal injury and legal world, the American Bar Association even published an article regarding why they are “a virtual necessity.”
If you are involved in litigation or about to settle a claim for either an auto accident, slip & fall, or wrongful death case, make sure your attorney informs you fully of all of the obligations that come with the settlement agreement. Even disclosing the settlement to your neighbor or closest friend might come with you having to give back any money you received. Just ask the Snay’s about how their daughter cost them $80,000 over a Facebook post. Want to know your rights or talk to an attorney about settlements or a pending claim, do not hesitate to contact us today.