Torts that spring from romantic relationships are nothing new- the first civil suit for romantic insult probably happened right around the time the first courtroom opened its doors. But Michigan state single mom Cheryl Gray is suing for damages allegedly visited upon her by a Facebook boyfriend, which ventures into the emerging realm of social media law.
Laws and lawsuits involving sites like Facebook and Twitter can be fascinating because they’re creating precedent and raising new legal questions every day. And Gray’s case is one such notable suit- the Facebook user filed against former beau Wylie Iwan, alleging misrepresentation, promissory estoppel, defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Gray is seeking $8,368.88 for damages after she says she showered Iwan with gifts and planned a trip to his home state of Washington.
After Gray paid for the trip and a variety of trip related expenses- such as a trip to a Mariners game, Iwan told the 50-year-old woman he’d found someone else. Iwan, 35, claims that Gray lied about a variety of issues, including shaving eight years of her real age. He alleges she took screen shots of their private Facebook page, harassed him on his Facebook.
Gray contends that Iwan deliberately led her on and was involved with another woman long before he confessed to two-timing her. While judges are traditionally reluctant to preside over straightforward romantic disputes, this case will be interesting because evidence of the relationship as well as claims made by either party- unlike those whispered covertly in a breakroom or in a crowded bar- are presumably archived either on the site or in the complaining party’s email.
Do you think more cases like this will arise if Gray is successful? What do you think the standard for Facebook evidence should be, and should privacy laws apply?