A five-figure confidential settlement between a former headmaster and a Florida school was blown after the plaintiff's daughter told the school to "SUCK IT" on Facebook, a state appellate court has ruled.
Patrick Snay, 69, had managed to settle a discrimination suit with Miami's Gulliver Preparatory School, which allocated $80,000 for Snay to walk away with, reports the Miami Herald. Too bad Snay's daughter Dana Snay blew the deal by blasting the school in a Facebook post.
Settlements don't come without strings, and Snay found that out the following lessons the hard way:
The 1st Rule of Confidential Settlement Agreements Is...
When parties in civil litigation decide to settle their claims without going to trial, they draft a settlement agreement. This agreement typically details some form of compensation for the plaintiff to cover the harms alleged in the suit and releases the defendant from any of these claims in the present and future suits.
Confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements are usually part-and-parcel of any settlement, which keeps the matter private and out of the public eye. In agreeing to the settlement with Gulliver, Snay and his wife agreed to keep the terms of the settlement confidential, but he did share it with his daughter Dana, the Herald reports.
Telling close family members about a settlement typically isn't enough to foil a settlement agreement, but social media changed all that. When word got around to Gulliver that Dana Snay told her 1,200 Facebook friends that "Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT," the deal was officially off.
A Florida appellate court determined Wednesday that Gulliver was within its rights not to pay Snay after he breached the confidentiality agreement by blabbing to Dana -- who then blabbed on Facebook.
Fight Over Settlement Keeps Snays in Court
If Dana Snay hadn't opened her digital trap, the Snays would be enjoying the $80,000 promised to her father. Instead, the Snays spent more than the last two years in litigation fighting to get the settlement money that was supposed to keep the family out of court. Ironic, no?
Settlement agreements have been rejected before when the terms were unreasonable or predatory. But in this case the settlement was perfectly kosher; Snay just didn't uphold his end of the bargain.
As this case and Facebook-inspired robberies have confirmed, it's never a good idea to brag on social media about your legal winnings.
- Girl costs father $80,000 with 'SUCK IT' Facebook post (CNN)
- Settlement Agreement Is a Contract, Even Before It's Signed (FindLaw's U.S. 10th Circuit Blog)
- Is Your Confidentiality Agreement Legal? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Facebook Turns 10: A Legal Status Update (FindLaw's Decided)