In yet another very public disclosure of the existence of a
settlement agreement, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals of Florida
last week overturned a Circuit Court decision on a motion to
enforce the settlement agreement (Gulliver Schools v. Patrick Snay).
The facts of the case are simple. Mr. Snay was the
headmaster of Gulliver Schools. He was dismissed at age 69,
after which he brought a complaint alleging age
discrimination. He reached a settlement with his former
employer for the payment of $10,000 in back wages, $80,000 in
general damages and $60,000 in legal costs.
The terms of settlement included a confidentiality clause which
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
Four days after the agreement was signed, Gulliver notified Snay
that he had breached the agreement based on the Facebook posting of
Snay's college-age daughter. The daughter's post went
out to her approximately 1200 Facebook friends, many of which were
current or former students of Gulliver. Her post was
"Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver
is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer.
The School paid the legal fees portion of the settlement but
refused to pay the remainder, claiming that the confidentiality
terms were breached. The Court of Appeal noted that what
happened was precisely the type of circumstances that the
confidentiality clause was designed to prevent. Snay breached
the agreement by telling his daughter about the settlement, and
indirectly breached the agreement when she made her post on
It is another very useful decision that demonstrates a growing
trend towards enforcement of confidentiality provisions and the
dangers associated with social media for parties to a
settlement. In earlier blogs by
Andrew Cogswell and
Michael MacLellan we reviewed two recent Ontario decisions
involving similar facts and results. This trend of cases
reinforces the importance of a well-crafted settlement document and
diligence in the enforcement of confidentiality provisions.
The lawyers at CCP are able to assist employers with drafting
settlement agreements and providing guidance when faced with a
breach of agreed terms.
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