OR: Car owner had no REP from GPS installed by his company before he got the car from them

Plaintiff worked for Toyota Motor Credit and Toyota Financial Services. When he severed his employment with them, he was allowed to keep the vehicle he used for them. Unbeknownst to him, Toyota Financial Services had a GPS device on the car. He found out and sued for invasion of privacy. He has no reasonable expectation of privacy on the open road, but he can get to a jury on a tort theory over installation of the device. Reed v. Toyota Motor Credit Corp., 301 Ore. App. 825 (Jan. 23, 2020) (pending for 20 months after argument):

Just because the data recorded by the GPS device was not used does not mean that the secret installation of the device onto plaintiff’s leased vehicle was not an invasion of his privacy. An issue of material fact remains for a jury to decide whether, under the circumstances of this case, the installation of the GPS device amounted to an intrusion into a private place.

Note: If readers don’t already know it (and posted here six years ago), used car dealers who finance their own cars put GPS devices on them so they can locate the car to repossess it. Eventually police will find out on a DMV search some suspect doesn’t have clear title and a dealer has title and thus likely a GPS on the car. Then the police can obtain historical and real time tracking information without violating the Fourth Amendment from someone else’s GPS installation. Query a related issue: Suppose a rental car has GPS installed. Can the government download the GPS to incriminate the renter or operator with or without a warrant, depending on when and how? E.g., the car is seized with drugs and previously searched under the automobile exception. Can the government look to see where has it gone? Why not? What’s to stop them?

Update: Bloomberg Law: Toyota Must Face Privacy Invasion Allegations Over GPS Device (“Toyota Motor Credit Corp. must face allegations that it invaded a former employee’s privacy by placing a GPS device on a company-leased truck without his permission, an Oregon appeals court ruled. The Court of Appeals of the State of Oregon overturned Toyota’s victory in a lower court summary judgment order that found no one had accessed data from the GPS device. Appeals Judge Josephine Mooney ruled that even if no one accessed the information, the data was still collected, and ‘there was actual monitoring.'”)

This entry was posted in GPS / Tracking Data, Reasonable expectation of privacy, Third Party Doctrine. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.