When a forensic examination of a cell system could also be warranted | Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

With the development of know-how, digital communications – particularly textual content messages – can usually present a treasure trove of proof. Whereas requests for electronic mail communications and collections from laborious drives and networks are commonplace in at this time’s litigation, a celebration’s textual content messages and collections from cell gadgets are sometimes neglected. A narrowly tailor-made movement to compel forensic examination generally is a priceless discovery device to investigate the information on a celebration’s cellular phone.

Basis for Movement to Comel

The procedural foundation for the movement is grounded in Federal Guidelines 34 and 26(b). In accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Process 34:

A celebration could serve on some other celebration a request underneath Rule 26(b)

(1) to supply and allow the requesting celebration or its consultant to examine, copy, take a look at or pattern the next objects within the responding celebration’s possession, custody or management:

(A) any designated doc or electronically saved data – together with writings, drawings, graphs, charts, pictures, sound recordings, photographs and different knowledge or compilations of information – saved in any medium from which data could be obtained both instantly or, if vital, after translation of the responding celebration into a fairly usable kind[.]

Federal Rule of Civil Process 26(b) defines the scope of permitted discovery as follows:

…The events could study of all non-privileged issues related to any celebration’s declare or protection and proportionate to the exigencies of the case, having regard to the significance of the problems at stake within the motion, the quantity in controversy, the events’ relator entry to related data, the assets of the events, the importance of the invention in resolving the problems, and whether or not the burden or value of the proposed discovery outweighs its probably profit….

In figuring out whether or not to grant a movement to compel a forensic examination of a celebration’s phone, the courtroom will consider whether or not the examination “will reveal data related to the claims and defenses within the case and whether or not such examination is proportionate to the wants of the case given the cell phone proprietor’s compelling privateness curiosity within the contents of his or her cell phone.” In different phrases, the in any other case expansive scope of discoverable proof is tempered by the celebration’s privateness curiosity within the entity.[1] Pable v. Chicago Transit Authority, no. 19 CV 7868, 2021 WL 4789023, *2 (ND Unwell. Apr. 2, 2021). For that purpose, “the requesting celebration should current no less than some dependable data that the opposing celebration’s representations are deceptive or materially inaccurate.” Id.

Pable v. Chicago Transit Authority

IN Pablothe plaintiff, a former worker of the Chicago Transit Authority (“CTA”), and his supervisor, found an error in an software utilized by the CTA to offer alerts and repair data to its public transit customers. Id. at *1. The bug allegedly allowed unauthorized customers to take management of the appliance and ship unauthorized alerts on the system. Id. After Plaintiff’s supervisor tried to hack CTA’s software to check Plaintiff’s idea, an investigation by CTA decided that Plaintiff’s actions violated CTA guidelines, insurance policies, and procedures, forcing Plaintiff to resign somewhat than resign. Id.

Throughout discovery, the CTA requested all the plaintiff’s communications along with her supervisor relating to the allegedly incorrect software. Id. The plaintiff imaged his telephone and produced what he claimed have been all of its communications. Id. After receiving the plaintiff’s manufacturing, the CTA filed a movement to compel a forensic examination of the plaintiff’s telephone. Id. The CTA was in a position to query the completeness of the plaintiff’s manufacturing by exhibiting that the quantity of information the plaintiff produced mirrored lower than 1% of the telephone’s storage capability and that it didn’t embrace communications exchanged on third-party functions, Web shopping and/or search historical past, audio or picture information, or knowledge related to 151 of the 200 functions on the telephone. Id. at 3.

Plaintiff argued that forcing him to supply his telephone for a second image would have been a unprecedented treatment, that he had already produced all communications from his telephone, and that the CTA had not proven that he had withheld any communications. Id. at *1.

The Court docket granted the CTA’s movement to compel primarily based on the next: (1) the unique imaging was performed with none alternative for enter from the CTA on the protocol applied for the imaging course of; (2) the extraordinarily small quantity of plaintiff’s manufacturing; (3) that the invention sought—communications between plaintiff and his supervisor concerning the software—went to the guts of plaintiff’s declare; and (4) that plaintiff had no foundation to invoke privateness considerations after he had already imaged the telephone himself.


Whereas the myriad pink flags from plaintiff’s authentic manufacturing paved the way in which for the CTA’s movement to compel on this case, the potential worth of directed discovery from both celebration’s cellular phone shouldn’t be discounted. Most often, we’ve got discovered {that a} non-forensic assortment of a cell system is adequate. Nevertheless, when doubts creep in concerning the veracity and completeness of a cell system manufacturing, a forensic picture could also be warranted.

[1] Appears to be like Advisory Notes to Rule 34, “[i]nspection or testing of sure kinds of electronically saved data or of a responding celebration’s digital data programs could elevate questions of confidentiality or integrity.”

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