The majority of cases we handle for our clients settle before trial. Typically during a settlement conference, where all parties come together with a focus on resolution. In settlement, no party admits fault, and everyone agrees that the deal is being done to avoid risk, uncertainty and ongoing expenses. In almost all of these cases, and especially in medical malpractice and products liability cases, settlement requires that our clients enter into a confidentiality agreement.
The terms of confidentiality agreements vary. We are often asked by clients to define the parameters of what they can and cannot say. That advice is very fact specific and varies on a case by case basis. But safe advice is that if asked directly, you can say you had a dispute with the defendant that has now been resolved. And you should otherwise keep your mouth shut.
Enter exuberant Dana Snay, whose father recently settled a wrongful termination suit, confidentiality agreement and all, with his former employer, Gulliver Prepatory School, where he was Headmaster. Dana, herself a Gulliver grad immediately took to Facebook with this post:
"Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT."
With 1,200 friends, many with ties to Gulliver, the school and its lawyers soon learned of Dana's boasts and took Mama, Papa and daughter back to court. In the end, the court determined that Mr. Snay, through his daughter, violated the confidentiality agreement and voided the settlement. In an age of oversharing and communal conversations, it's easy to post something in the heat of the moment. Don't.
By Dev Sethi