BoE wins dismissal of Starr’s Mill student’s lawsuit about use of Facebook photo
A former Starr’s Mill High School student’s lawsuit against the Fayette County Board of Education over the use of a Facebook photo she posted has been dismissed in federal court.
U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten ruled that because plaintiff Chelsea Chaney posted it to her Facebook page, thus allowing others access to it, she had no reasonable expectation of privacy under federal law.
The photo was displayed in a PowerPoint presentation at a community awareness seminar held by the school system in October 2011, and that particular slide in the presentation used her full name as well, according to the lawsuit. The photo depicts a bikini-clad Chaney standing next to a life-size photo of the rapper known as “Snoop Dogg.”
While dismissing the lawsuit against the school system, it will remain intact for now in a personal capacity against the school system employee who prepared the PowerPoint presentation, Director of Technology Curt Cearley, who had not filed a motion to dismiss the case, according to Batten’s ruling.
The lawsuit claimed that the school system and Cearley violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from illegal search and seizure along with her Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy.
Judge Batten ruled that Chaney’s profile privacy setting at the time was set to “friends of friends” and thus made per page available to “potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of people whom she did not know.” As such, Chaney’s Fourth Amendment claim could not be sustained, Batten wrote.
Because Chaney voluntarily gave the photo to her Facebook friends, she had no legitimate expectation of privacy according to federal law, Batten ruled.