A recent case illustrates why (1) it is important for parties to abide by the confidentiality provisions of settlement agreements, and (2) people who learn confidential information should keep their social media mouths shut.
Plaintiff sued his former employer (a private school) for age discrimination and retaliation. The parties later settled the case and entered an agreement containing the following provision:
13. Confidentiality … [T]he plaintiff shall not either directly or indirectly, disclose, discuss or communicate to any entity or person, except his attorneys or other professional advisors or spouse any information whatsoever regarding the existence or terms of this Agreement … A breach … will result in disgorgement of the Plaintiffs portion of the settlement Payments.
After the parties signed the settlement agreement, plaintiff’s college-age daughter posted this on Facebook:
Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.
Defendant school district refused to pay a portion of the settlement payments ($80,000), claiming plaintiff’s disclosure of the settlement to his daughter violated the confidentiality provision. Plaintiff asked the trial court to enforce the settlement agreement, which it did. Defendant sought review with the Court of Appeal of Florida. On appeal, the court agreed with the school and reversed.
The court found that “before the ink was dry on the [settlement] agreement, and notwithstanding the clear language of section 13 mandating confidentiality, [plaintiff] violated the agreement by doing exactly what he had promised not to do.” And his daughter “then did precisely what the confidentiality agreement was designed to prevent, advertising . . . that plaintiff had been successful in his age discrimination and retaliation case against the school.”
Gulliver Schools, Inc. v. Snay, — So.3d —, 2014 WL 769030 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. Feb 26, 2014)