In Smith v. Brown, the Supreme Court of Bronx County, New York examined a motion for protective order regarding requests for admissions pertaining to the plaintiff’s Instagram account. The underlying case concerned a motor vehicle accident that purportedly resulted in serious injuries. The defendant served the plaintiff with requests for admission as to whether a certain Instagram account belonged to the plaintiff, whether the plaintiff had recently changed the account to “private,” and whether certain photographs and videos on the account belonged to the plaintiff and were taken after the subject accident. While most of the photographs on the account were “selfies,” some of the photographs showed a woman engaging in activities such as rock climbing or walking on a boardwalk.
The plaintiff did not respond to the requests for admissions within the time required under the New York civil rules. Instead, the plaintiff filed a motion for protective order to vacate or strike the requests, arguing that the requests seek admissions on material issues in the litigation, and that the information could be obtained by other means (such as a deposition). In the alternative, the plaintiff sought an extension of time to respond to the requests.
The Court noted that while requests for admission cannot be sought with regard to “ultimate conclusions” or information of a technical, scientific, or detailed nature, no such information was addressed in the present case. The Court also observed that the ability to seek the information at issue through other means of discovery did not render the requests for admission improper. The Court found that the requests properly concerned “clear-cut matters of fact” within the knowledge of the plaintiff for which the defendant reasonably believed there could be no dispute at trial.
The Court therefore denied the plaintiff’s motion to vacate or strike the requests. The Court granted the plaintiff’s request for additional time to respond to the requests, as this was not opposed by the defendant.