Confidential Settlements – A Big Deal

Civil settlements often come with strings attached. One of those strings is usually a confidentiality agreement, basically saying that by accepting the settlement you agree to keep the terms of the settlement hush-hush. These confidentiality agreements are, 99.9999999% of the time, required by defendants and their insurance companies.

Why do this? There are two main reasons:

  1. The defendant doesn’t want to admit they did anything wrong; and
  2. The defendant doesn’t want to encourage more lawsuits by appearing to be an “easy target.”

“Well, so what? What’s the worst thing that can happen if I tell all my friends and family about my settlement?”

I’m glad you asked. In a recent case, the Third DCA found that Patrick Snay (a guy who sued his former employer (a school named Gulliver) for employment discrimination, then settled) violated the terms of the confidentiality provision in a settlement agreement when he told his daughter “that it was settled and we were happy with the results.” As a result, the settlement was undone, and Mr. Snay was basically required to return the $80,000.00 he got as a result.

So how did Mr. Snay’s employer find out he had told his daughter about the settlement? Did they talk to his daughter? Did they wiretap his phone? Wait … how old did you say Mr. Snay’s daughter was? In college?

Specifically, she posted the following on her Facebook page:

Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now
officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.

The Court noted that her “Facebook comment went out to approximately 1200 of the daughter’s Facebook friends, many of whom were either current or past Gulliver students.”

Moral of the story: if you accept a confidential settlement, don’t share it with anyone, especially a Facebook-happy Millennial. I should add that it’s a bad idea to tell someone to “SUCK IT” on Facebook, but I hope you already knew that.