Cell Phone Discovery – Allowed in Florida
By Personal Injury Attorney Jeffrey J. Downey
A court ruling last week in a Florida circuit court involved a traffic accident including women’s professional tennis star Venus Williams, which has implications for those who use cellphones while operating a motor vehicle.
Attorneys for the estate of Jerome Barson,(Law No. 50-2-17 CP 003073) – who are pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in the Palm Beach County 15th Judicial Circuit presided over by Judge James Edward Nutt, had asked the court to provide her device, an iPhone 6s, over Ms. Williams’ legal team’s objection.
Judge Nutt instead ordered the Williams team to conduct its own review of the phone and report the finding within in a month.
“I liken a cellphone is no different from a file cabinet. You haven’t opened the file cabinet yet for yourselves.” A phone must be treated like any other search for records in civil litigation, Judge Nutt explained.
Venus Williams was involved in a traffic accident in June 2017 when Linda Barson, the driver of the other car that hit her vehicle, while she was waiting to turn left as another vehicle had allegedly violated Ms. Williams’ right of way. Linda Barson’s husband suffered multiple injuries from that accident and died days later. The tennis star gave sworn statement in that she was not texting, talking or using social media while on her device. Palm Beach Garden police have said Ms. Williams was not at fault, as her vehicle was waiting at an intersection to turn when her vehicle was hit last June.
The court’s discovery ruling is not surprising, explains Fairfax personal injury attorney Jeffrey J. Downey. In a civil suit a party can obtain any information that is likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Cell phones can include a wealth of important information including data on texting, phone conversations and even location. Personal injury attorneys in Virginia routinely seek such information in discovery, explains Downey.
If you or a loved one have suffered personal injury in Virginia, contact the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey for a free consultation. We practice in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Our office is conveniently located near Tyson’s Corner.
Address: 8270 Greensboro Drive, Suite 810, McLean, VA, 22101, Phone 703-564-7318. On the web at www.jeffdowney.com.
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