Cell-phone data discovery requests have become common place in recent years. In December 2022, the Texas Supreme Court provided key principles that should guide trial courts’ management of these requests. See In re Kuraray America, Inc.
The Texas Supreme Court notes that to be entitled to production of cell-phone data, the party seeking it must first allege or provide some evidence of cell-phone use by the person whose data is sought at a time when it could have been a contributing cause of the incident on which the claim is based. If the party seeking the discovery satisfies this initial burden, the trial court may order production of cell-phone data, provided its temporal scope is tailored to encompass only the period in which cell-phone use could have contributed to the incident. A trial court may not, at this stage, order production of a person’s cell-phone data for a time at which his use of a cell phone could not have been a contributing cause of the incident.
Only if this initial production indicates that cell-phone use could have contributed to
the incident may a trial court consider whether additional discovery regarding cell-phone use beyond that timeframe may be relevant. Mandamus relief may be available to a party where a trial court ordered production of cell-phone data in violations of these principles. The attorneys at Ramey Chandler Quinn, P.C. are proud to assist their clients in navigating the cross-roads of technology and litigation.
By Andrew H. Myint