It goes without saying that there’s been much attention given to the use of social media in litigation. As litigators, we regularly monitor Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media networks to surveille those who have sued our clients and those that our clients are suing. In the class action context, social media is being used on a more frequent basis as a cost-effective tool in providing notice to class members. For example, in the case of Mark v. Gawker Media LLC, 1:13-cv-04347, a judge in the Southern District of New York recently approved the use of social media to notify putative class members of a pending wage and hour class action lawsuit. Social media has even extended to service of process. Cozen O’Connor’s Food and Beverage Industry team represents a client involved in a commercial dispute with one of its Egyptian-based suppliers. Mincing Trading Corp. v. Aromatic Ingredients S.A.E., 13-cv-931. Service of process of the Summons and Complaint, however, was rendered impossible due to the civil unrest in Egypt. After finding the Egyptian supplier on LinkedIn and already having its e-mail address, Cozen O’Connor asked the District Court Judge in New Jersey presiding over the case for leave to use alternative methods of service via these media. In its Order granting the motion, the Court found significant that the proposed methods of service have not been objected to by Egypt and that Defendant “would actually receive notice through same.” Click here for a copy of the Order.
The increased acceptance of social media as a means to providing notice – whether of a class action settlement or of a Summons and Complaint – is reflective of the dramatic change in the way we interact with one another, and represents a step in the right direction in providing real, targeted notice to litigants and protecting their due process rights. As Minnesota Judge Kevin Burke noted in the case of Mpafe v. Mpafe, “[t]he traditional way to get service by publication is antiquated and is prohibitively expensive…[s]ervice is critical, and technology provides a cheaper and hopefully more effective way of finding respondent.” There’s no doubt we’ve become more social. Pretty soon we may even be speaking with each other on elevators.