Texas couple sues Apple because FaceTime is a distraction to drivers

Janis ColeJan 06, 2017

The family of a 5-year-old girl killed in a auto crash is suing Apple because the driver of the other vehicle was using FaceTime, a live-video streaming application developed by Apple. The plaintiffs also say Apple failed to manufacture its iPhone 6 Plus with "safer, alternative "lock-out" technology", pointing to a previous patent.

The patent is designed in a way to provide a "lock-out mechanism" so drivers can not use it while in motion, but such lock-out services are not always fully utilized due to limits of its detection capacity.

On December 24, 2014, Bethany and James Modisette were driving near Dallas using their Toyota Camry with their 2 daughters, Moriah and Isabella, in the back seat of the vehicle.

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There was some kind of police activity ahead that brought traffic to a standstill, so James Modisette pressed the brake, bringing the auto to a stop in the left lane. The 4Runner then hit the Camry again, with the SUV driving up and over the length of the driver's side of the vehicle.

Driving behind them, Garrett Wilhelm failed to stop and his SUV slammed into the auto at 105km/h, tearing it apart and riding up over the top. Moriah was airlifted to an children's hospital, where she later died of her injuries.

The company's "failure to design, manufacture, and sell the iPhone 6 Plus with the patented, safer, alternative design technology already available to it. and failure to warn users that the product was likely to be risky when used or misused in a reasonably foreseeable manner. rendered the Apple iPhone 6 defective when it left defendant APPLE INC.'s possession, and were therefore a substantial factor in causing plaintiffs' injuries and the decedent's death", the Modisettes' lawyers allege. In 2014, distracted driving was found to be a factor in more than 3,000 deaths, and some 43 percent of teenagers say they've used their phones while driving.

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At the time of the collision in question, the iPhone utilized by Wilhelm contained the necessary hardware (to be configured with software) to automatically disable or "lock out" the ability to use [FaceTime] ...

Wilhelm, the 22-year-old accused driver, was indicted on manslaughter charges by a grand jury in Denton County, Texas, The Denton Record-Chronicle reported.

In the meantime, however, the Modisettes have filed suit against Apple in a California state court. The lawsuit claims that Apple should have introduced a feature that disabled the use of video-chat application while the owner is driving.

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