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The Evidence of Fitbit

Sometimes I just like to start out with some positive, before I head into the law.

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That’s positive, right? Especially if you are a lion!

I guess this was bound to happen, but doesn’t this story from the NY Times sound like something out of a fiction novel? It’s a story about how Fitbit is now a silent witness in a murder case.

According to the article, “Richard Dabate was charged in his wife’s 2015 death after investigators say they found a contradiction between his story and her exercise tracker’s data.”

A woman was found shot dead in her Connecticut home. Her husband told the police that there had been a violent struggle with a masked intruder. The man then zip-tied Dabate to a chair, took his wallet and credit cards and then cut him with a knife. Then, fatally shot his wife in the basement.

That’s where the Fitbit evidence adds to the story. During the time that all these events were supposedly occurring in the basement, the wife’s Fitbit shows that she walked 1,217 feet around the house. By the exercise device records, she was not stationary or struggling with an attacker in the basement.

The timeline of Mr. Dabate’s story unraveled when presented with the records of his wife’s exercise. In their investigation, the police also reviewed records from Facebook, text messages, door movements and alarm settings. They also noted that the husband owned the gun that matched to the gun shot wounds.

It also didn’t help that Mr. Dabate had a pregnant girlfriend… and made a claim for the $475,000 insurance policy, just 5 days after his wife’s murder. Hmmm!

 

And for pic o’ day, these numbers just don’t add up.

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Fitbit and Wegmans

This  contains lawsuit and recall information on a product and a grocery chain that I like a lot. So, I have combined them both in a news kind of blog. It’s some of Wegmans and Fitbit.

Fitbit is facing a class action lawsuit that claims that their devices do not effectively monitor heart rates. (Fortune) According to the filed lawsuit, Fitbit’s heart rate monitoring technology (PurePulse) does not accurately measure a user’s heart rate. The lawsuit contends that one of the plaintiff’s “trainer recorded a heart rate of 160 beats per minute (bpm) while her Fitbit showed that her heart rate was only 82 beats per minute.”

The lawsuit also states that a cardiologist, who used an electrocardiogram machine to compare results, found Fitbit’s heart rate sensor to be consistently inaccurate.  Multiple plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim the same reported inaccuracies. The market doesn’t like this news and the stock that recently went public is now trading below its IPO price after falling over 12%.

Moving from fitness to food, you might want to avoid buying certain bags of chicken. These include Wegman’s Italian Flavored Chicken Breast Cutlet and Brown Sugar Barbecue Seasoned Chicken Breast Cutlet. The grocery chain has issued a recall on its chicken because their product/ chicken missed a government inspection.(PennLive.com) The grocery chain advises that they have recalled over a thousand pounds of chicken.

I guess it makes you question health. Me, I would question seeing a chicken walking fast down the street… wearing a Fitbit.

And to fight the cold…

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Fitbit and Garmin Discovery

In the world of law, discovery of evidence used to be based on basic things like measurements, photographs, witness statements and medical records. Now, it’s not unusual to have discovery include a fishing expedition with a look toward online social media.

Usually, interrogatory questions from each side include discovery of Facebook accounts and whether people have other online messaging that might include a person’s description of life. If a person says that they are hurting and can’t do very much, are they posting pictures of their bowling night? Do you see them posting their picture with a grin… as they jump on their backyard trampoline?

Well, now there’s another possible source of information that may be relevant in a claim.  The Washington Post recently reported on how technology could soon kill the art of lying. “Lies are a fact of life,” the newspaper says. “But technology may soon make them obsolete.”

According to the ABA Journal, “Data from wearable devices is being eyed as evidence in the courtroom”. Lancaster Online tells the story of one criminal case where the defense in a rape case was able to use the tracking of a Fitbit to fight the charge. A woman  said she was asleep when she awoke to find a rapist who assaulted her. The woman’s Fitbit, however, showed that the woman was awake and walking around at the time she claimed to be asleep. Just something to try and create reasonable doubt in a juror’s mind.

Insurance companies are using posted pictures, GPS exercise watches, cell phone GPS discovery and discovery of the identification of friends through social media accounts. This information might help them defend worker’s compensation claims and auto accident injury claims.

Cars now provide data to establish how fast a defendant’s car was traveling at point of impact. Truck drivers might keep two sets of log books to try and fake how long they have been driving. However, now their trucks can establish distance traveled during a specific time, and potentially the speed they travel.

Discovery can tell a story that can refute the defense. It’s part of the reason that I try to encourage people to let us get to work quickly on their claim before information is lost. Maybe try to get that security video footage that may be only available for a short period of time and then erased. On the flip side, insurance companies investigate claims quickly… while they discourage people from hiring lawyers. Pretty savvy on their part.

Still, I never thought that I would see the day when someone’s Garmin or Fitbit would be part of evidence. As one TV show used to say, “The Truth is out there”.

And for pic o’ day, here’s some “photograph discovery”:

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Focusing on What’s Next

This is the tweener time of year between the holidays and the New Year. So, it makes me think about personal goals and law firm goals.

Dr John Whyte has written a new book titled New American Diet which includes the keywords lose weight and live longer. It suggests which foods to eat and which to avoid.

The book’s focus on food is a good thing, but I also think that there are other good tips to keep me focused. I won’t steal the book’s thunder like making sure that you get at least 6 hours of sleep each night (less is proven to cause obesity); or that you make sure to eat more dark chocolate. There are some who don’t like chocolate and others who might decide to incorporate 2 Hershey bars into their day.

Instead, let me focus specifically on one of the twelve tips in the book, to lose weight fast. It’s something we are incorporating in the practice. That item is wallking!

walking sign

The book reminds that walking doesn’t just help in losing weigh, it also helps clear your mind. Studies show that walking can help in combating an early onset of dementia. In fact, people who cannot walk a quarter-mile in 5 minutes have a higher mortality rate. So, fitness experts recommend walking at least 10,000 steps a day. But here’s the law firm idea.

This is probably going to sound like an advertisement. But we have decided to help each other in walking.

dog helping

     A couple of years ago, we started a wellness program at the firm that divided everyone into teams. Then, you could get points for gym attendance or various fitness goals. Still it was missing something.

     Since that time, I have been using a Fitbit on my belt. They come in various kinds that include a bracelet and there are other brands to measure walking and other activities. For me, I just wanted to keep it simple. This is what mine looks like.fitbit

     That led the social media team to come up with the idea of giving everyone a Fitbit. Then, we can tie them all together by an email report and set various goals with an automatic counter. Nothing magical about it. Just something to encourage us to walk.

It’s also what my parents wanted for Christmas. And, they have already updated me on their progress. It has encouraged them to walk a bit more each day. Here’s where you can buy one from Amazon. (Yes, it does sound like an advertisement; but no, operators are not standing by)

Ok, that’s enough sales. I promise a joke tomorrow instead!

And for our pic o’ day…

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