Daughter’s Facebook post costs dad’s $80,000 settlement deal

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Ugh – I saw the caption of this article and knew exactly what happened.  I can’t say I have had a client break a confidentiality clause yet, but we tell our clients over and over again that this can happen.  Unfortunately, the Snay family learned the hard way.

After her father, Patrick Snay, had reached an agreement where he would receive an $80,000 settlement and $10,000 in back pay from Guillver Preparatory School, a Miami girl wrote on Facebook that the school could “SUCK IT.”  “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Patrick Snay, 69, had filed an age discrimination complaint against the school when his 2010-11 contract wasn’t renewed and the two sides agreed to the settlement.  The settlement had a confidential clause to it.  The confidentiality provision said:

[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.

Snay’s daughter blasted the message to her 1,200 Facebook followers, which included many current and former Gulliver students. Word of the post spread like wildfire back to school officials.Within a few days, Gulliver Schools sent a letter to Snay’s attorneys stating that Snay had broken a confidentiality agreement and that he would not be receiving the $80,000 settlement.

Alone, it’s unlikely confiding in Dana Snay would have jeopardized the settlement. But having just graduated from Gulliver, she took to social media to gloat  and in doing so informed all current and former students of the school that Gulliver had just lost its case with its former headmaster.  Dana’s Facebook post wasn’t the breach. Go back through the confidentiality language again. As you can see, reading the contract literally, Snay can disclose the existence of the settlement agreement only to his wife and his attorneys/advisors, but not to his daughter. As a result, Snay simply telling his daughter œthat it was settled was the breach; the Facebook post just provides evidence of the breach. Of course, Gulliver might not have known of the father-daughter conversation/violation without the Facebook post, but surely Gulliver couldn’t ignore the breach after they were told to SUCK IT.

After Gulliver’s attorneys notified the former headmaster that they wouldn’t pay, Snay won a ruling to enforce the settlement.  Subsequently, Gulliver appealed and won.  The Third District Court of Appeal tossed out an $80,000 discrimination settlement  between Gulliver Preparatory School and its former headmaster Patrick Snay, ruling the ex-employee and his daughter breached the terms of a confidential agreement when she took to social media to brag about it.  “Snay violated the agreement by doing exactly what he had promised not to do, Judge Linda Ann Wells wrote. œHis daughter then did precisely what the confidentiality agreement was designed to prevent.

Read more here.

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