Many Americans use digital devices to keep track of their workouts, to make sure they took the recommended number of steps per day, or even to track their sleep. This can be a good way to help meet their fitness goals and monitor their own health, but it can also raise some concerns about who else might have access to this data, and what they might do with it.
Ordinarily, these concerns center on tech companies that might sell the data to other companies that can use it to market goods and services to individuals. A recent case showed another possibility: The health data may be used as evidence against individuals in personal injury lawsuits.
The case involves a man who filed suit against Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc., alleging that he suffered permanent injury after he was surgically implanted with one of the company’s hip implants. According to his complaint, he had the device implanted in 2007, but it caused him pain and mobility problems. He had the device removed in 2015, but continued to experience pain and mobility problems. He alleges that these problems were the result of a defective device.
Recently, a federal court ordered the man to turn over data from his Fitbit, a digital device that people wear on their wrists to track their steps, heart rate and sleep. Zimmer Biomet sought the data as evidence that could confirm or discount the man’s claim that he has suffered continued mobility issues after having the hip implant removed. The man resisted turning over the data, arguing that it is insufficiently reliable and could be misleading.
Medical device litigation
The court in this case noted that there is very little in the way of precedent for admitting this type of evidence, despite the increasing popularity of the Fitbit and similar devices and apps. However, there have been thousands of cases of lawsuits over hip implants, knee implants and similar medical devices. Many Americans have complained that defective medical devices have caused them permanent injury.
These can be difficult cases, with unusual evidentiary requirements. Those who feel they have been injured by a defective medical device can speak with an experienced attorney to learn more about their legal options.