The Innovation of Litigation.

10 Times the Internet of Things Decided a Case Outcome

The next time you head to court, think about the data you can recover from “internet of things devices.” Internet of things products from Fitbits to medical devices are collecting data 24/7 and can help you establish timelines, destroy alibis, and prove damages. This post lists 10 instances in which internet of things devices were determinative in litigation.

The next time you prepare for litigation, consider the evidence that you can obtain from both your client’s and your opponent’s “internet of things” devices. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of internet of things, the phrase refers to devices that collect and exchange data over the internet using embedded sensors. For example, smartwatches, car software, certain kitchen appliances, smart thermostats and water meters, and personal digital assistants are all internet of things devices.

As more litigators become familiar with the functions and capabilities of internet of things technology, they have leverages the data collected by these devices in various phases of litigation to establish probable cause, destroy witness credibility, and prove damages. Below are 10 times litigators have used internet of things data.

  1. Prosecutors used data from a Fitbit device and a home alarm system to indict a husband in his wife’s murder.
  2. Police used Fitbit data to contradict a woman’s rape allegations.
  3. Pacemaker data was used to charge a man with arson and insurance fraud (and a judge approved the use of this evidence in trial).
  4. Plaintiff used Fitbit data in a personal injury case to show how drastically a car accident reduced her physical abilities.
  5. Prosecutors used “information from a smart water meter, alleging that an increase in water use in the middle of the night suggests a possible cleanup around the crime scene” in a murder case.
  6. Prosecutors sought Amazon Echo data in the same murder case mentioned in No. 5. Ultimately, prosecutors could not find any incriminating evidence on the device and dropped the charges against the defendant.  
  7. Investigators in Australia used an Apple Watch to debunk a murder suspect’s story of events.
  8. In Germany, investigators used an iPhone’s Apple Health app data to recreate the events that led up to a murder and rape.
  9. In 2007, a defendant’s inadvertent OnStar recording led to a drug trafficking conviction.
  10. The FBI requested, and a court approved, a warrant to obtain location data from a SiriusXM tracking device.

The amount of data attorneys can collect from connected devices is incredibly vast if they know where to look for it. But even if attorneys know where to look, there are still some issues accessing it in discovery. We discuss those discovery issues here .

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Trial by Tech is a blog brought to you by Baylor Law’s Executive LL.M. in Litigation Management—the first program in the nation designed exclusively for lawyers who aspire to direct effective litigation strategy, control electronic discovery, leverage technology, manage a team, and lead their company’s or firm’s efforts to manage a high-volume, high-stakes docket.

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