Lawsuit blames Apple's 'less safe' FaceTime implementation for fatal traffic accident

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2016
A family whose daughter's life was tragically cut short by a driver using FaceTime is suing Apple, claiming that the company has made a "less safe" than possible version of the telecommunications utility available, and as such is responsible for the crash.




First spotted by Courthouse News, James and Bethany Modisette claim that Apple is liable for a fatal car crash because of its "failure to install and implement" a patented ability to "'lock out' the ability of drivers to utilize the FaceTime application on the Apple iPhone when driving a motor vehicle."

The suit stems from a death related to the Dec. 24, 2014 accident in Texas, when James Modisette slowed the vehicle the family was traveling in because of road congestion. A 20-year-old driver then slammed into the rear of the car at 65 miles per hour, injuring the passengers in the Modisette's car, and ultimately leading to the death of the five-year-old Moriah Modisette after arrival at a local hospital.

The driver at the wheel of the vehicle that slammed into Modisette's car told police that he was using FaceTime on his iPhone 6 Plus at the time of the crash. Additionally, police found that the app was still running and a call was in progress when they arrived at the scene.

"Despite both the technology since 2008 and a patent on that technology so it could exploit its patent without competition for 20 years, " declares the court filing, "defendant Apple has consistently and continuously failed to implement a safer, alternative design that would lock-out and prevent use of FaceTime while driving."

The filing goes on to claim that the conduct of the driver that caused the accident is "inextricably intertwined" with Apple's failure to implement the patented lockout feature. As a result of not implementing a patented feature, Apple has allegedly "breached a duty of care to plaintiffs."

Regarding a FaceTime lockout, the suit claims that "the cost of altering the design would be minimal" for Apple and "there are no conceivable disadvantages to implementing the technology." It is unclear how that assumption has been reached by the attorneys filing the document.

Apple is being accused of making the iPhone 6 Plus defective by design by not including technologies that may have never been developed despite the patent ownership. In failing to implement the technology, the suit claims that Apple acted with intent to cause injury, with a "willful and knowing disregard of the rights and safety of another" in order to profit.

Texas has no law restricting cellphone use for drivers over 18 years old on the state's highways.

The suit is not demanding that Apple ultimately implement the technology. It is seeking damages, medical expenses, and other remuneration as the court sees fit as a result of not including the technology that it holds a patent for, but has not as of yet implemented in any of its products.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 125
    How would Apple differentiate between the driver and a passenger using Facetime safely?
    robertwalterrhinotuffroundaboutnowjkichlineewtheckmanmagman1979mike1AaronMcBroomtdknoxcrispyds
  • Reply 2 of 125
    MalyOpaMalyOpa Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Maybe someone should sue state of Texas of not implementing a law which prohibit people from using phones while driving
    robertwalterroundaboutnowpalominerusswteejay2012ejimagman1979mknelsonmanfred zornMacPro
  • Reply 3 of 125
    MalyOpa said:
    Maybe someone should sue state of Texas of not implementing a law which prohibit people from using phones while driving
    Or maybe personal responsibility can be a thing still, and we don't need The Almighty Government to tell everyone what to do. 
    rhinotuffbloggerbloggeorgie01mike1AaronMcBroomkaiphermanfred zorntdknoxwonkothesanedouglas bailey
  • Reply 4 of 125
    MalyOpa said:
    Maybe someone should sue state of Texas of not implementing a law which prohibit people from using phones while driving
    Or maybe personal responsibility can be a thing still, and we don't need The Almighty Government to tell everyone what to do. 
    Found the Libertarian.
    ejianthony pattonMacProbrucemcStrangeDaysStrangeDaysStrangeDaysmwhiteviclauyycdysamoria
  • Reply 5 of 125
    "I'll never get all the money I want out of a 20-year-old. I think I'll sue someone with big pockets!"
    ewtheckmanmike1AaronMcBroomtdknoxwonkothesanebrucemcmacseekerDoodpantsviclauyycVisualSeed2
  • Reply 6 of 125
    I'm moving to Texas and going to sue the parents for "breached a duty" of raising a child properly!
    mike1viclauyycjohnfrombeyondlolliverlongpathtzm41watto_cobrabrakken
  • Reply 7 of 125
    mknelson said:
    How would Apple differentiate between the driver and a passenger using Facetime safely?
    It can’t without some serious artificial intelligence, nor can any other cameraphone. THat is why Apple has only implemented this with Carplay - contrary to what is assumed this has actually been implemented
    palominelolliverlongpathhzcwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 125
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,196administrator
    Apple doesn't hold the patent for an in-dash cutoff of FaceTime.

    They do hold it for a handheld implementation, which is what the crux of the suit is about. Apple has the patent, they haven't used it in a fashion that would have prevented the crash.
    gatorguyMacProdysamoriajustadcomicslarsimanhzcr00fus1
  • Reply 9 of 125
    There should be a law that there should be a law! 
    georgie01
  • Reply 10 of 125
    This lawsuit is ridiculous. It's the kid's fault not Apple's. If he was reading a magazine would the parents sue the magazine company? Or the company that made the paper?
    magman1979MacProtdknoxcrispydsviclauyyclolliverstompyjustadcomicscoolfactorraybo
  • Reply 11 of 125
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,549member
    I'm sorry for their loss, but these parents are pieces of shit for using their son's death to try to fleece a company because of its deep pockets and betting on the fear of bad press despite knowing its not responsible for the poor choices of a 20yo driver.
    edited December 2016 georgie01magman1979brucemckendog52404Metriacanthosaurusdysamorialolliverstompybaconstangredgeminipa
  • Reply 12 of 125
    How about suing the state of Texas for not placing laws against distracted driving, the car company for not placing anti-collision technology in the car to prevent stupid people from slamming into the back of another car, the family of the driver for not teaching the dangers of distracted driving to their kids, and all cell phone companies for not turning off all calling and texting features when the phones are traveling at high speeds. All this has been known, explained, and developed for over 20 years, but let's try a ridiculous lawsuit and blame stupidity on someone else.
    magman1979tdknoxviclauyycdysamorialolliverbaconstangleeeh2watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 125
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,580member
    Way to crap all over their sons life by trying to con money out of Apple. I know there is a generation brought up on x-factor and big brother and there is no longer personal responsibility but that isn't the fault of Apple. It's down to parents. 
    magman1979tdknoxlolliverlostkiwibaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 125
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,943member
    Speaking of patents, this lawsuit is patently ridiculous. It's no different than suing a gun manufacturer for not implementing a fingerprint recognition guard on a firearm involved in an accidental shooting (the technology is available), suing an automobile manufacturer for not implementing breathalyzer interlock on a vehicle involved in a drunk driving fatality (the technology is available), or suing the US Park Service for not putting a 20 foot climb proof fence with razor wire around the entire perimeter of the Grand Canyon (no technology required). It's impossible to guard against all possible forms of stupidity. As we've witnessed on numerous occasions just in the past year, there is no upper limit on stupidity. Just when you thought you've witnessed the stupidest thing humanly possible, whammo, you are proven wrong! If anything needs a military grade stupidity filter, it's Twitter, not FaceTime.
    jkichlinecrispydsStrangeDaysviclauyycdysamoriastompybaconstangdannybrookredgeminipalongpath
  • Reply 15 of 125
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,376member
    jsmythe00 said:
    MalyOpa said:
    Maybe someone should sue state of Texas of not implementing a law which prohibit people from using phones while driving
    Or maybe personal responsibility can be a thing still, and we don't need The Almighty Government to tell everyone what to do. 
    I like this idea. And do away with helmet laws too
    Texas doesn't have helmet laws.

    Also, if the plaintiffs are suing Apple in TX, they aren't likely to get much sympathy considering their generous malpractice laws -- not only does the plaintif have to prove the physician demonstrated incompetence, or gross negligence, but also that the physician intended to cause the harm of which they're being accused.
    dysamorialongpathshamino
  • Reply 16 of 125
    Rather than blaming Apple for providing a distraction for one particularly careless driver, perhaps they would get more closure by launching a public information campaign about the dangers of using ANY mobile device while driving.  To think that most of these tragic cases involving phone use while driving - almost always young drivers - could be prevented by education and perhaps a law is very distressing.  That could have been anyone's kid. It is up to 'us', not Apple to keep our kids safe.


    owlboylarryacoolfactorjfc1138baconstanglongpathwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 125
    jr_bjr_b Posts: 63member
    This is the very definition of a frivolous lawsuit.
    techguy911macseekerlolliverdesignrNW Commenterbaconstanglongpathwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 125
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,328member
    Apple doesn't hold the patent for an in-dash cutoff of FaceTime.

    They do hold it for a handheld implementation, which is what the crux of the suit is about. Apple has the patent, they haven't used it in a fashion that would have prevented the crash.
    That's because it doesn't work in practice.  You simply can't differentiate between a passenger in the car and the driver using only GPS information.  You can only know that the passenger is "moving" and that they are on a "road".  So you would prevent everyone in the vehicle from using a phone which may be for a critical reason (you also don't know the use of the phone call at the time).

    In the end, accidents are left up to the responsibility of the driver. Period.  Why not sue the radio manufacturer for making a device that can play music that can distract the driver? Why not sue billboard manufacturers or makers of fine, short skirts?  Look, I say this having an uncle who was killed when a driver in a pickup truck with a lift kit crossed over the median as he adjusted his radio.  The vehicle went right over my uncles car and killed him instantly. (should we also sue makers of lift kits and large, heavy vehicles?) The point is that no matter what, there will always be something that distracts a driver.  It's up to the driver to discern and control the vehicle. Stop passing blame.
    georgie01Anilu_777stompyadamc
  • Reply 19 of 125
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,549member
    jkichline said:
    Apple doesn't hold the patent for an in-dash cutoff of FaceTime.

    They do hold it for a handheld implementation, which is what the crux of the suit is about. Apple has the patent, they haven't used it in a fashion that would have prevented the crash.
    That's because it doesn't work in practice.  You simply can't differentiate between a passenger in the car and the driver using only GPS information.  You can only know that the passenger is "moving" and that they are on a "road".  So you would prevent everyone in the vehicle from using a phone which may be for a critical reason (you also don't know the use of the phone call at the time).

    In the end, accidents are left up to the responsibility of the driver. Period.  Why not sue the radio manufacturer for making a device that can play music that can distract the driver? Why not sue billboard manufacturers or makers of fine, short skirts?  Look, I say this having an uncle who was killed when a driver in a pickup truck with a lift kit crossed over the median as he adjusted his radio.  The vehicle went right over my uncles car and killed him instantly. (should we also sue makers of lift kits and large, heavy vehicles?) The point is that no matter what, there will always be something that distracts a driver.  It's up to the driver to discern and control the vehicle. Stop passing blame.
    This would be cause FaceTime to quit even when stationary in many buildings where the GPS timing signals gets distorted.
    owlboy
  • Reply 20 of 125
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,328member

    dewme said:
    Speaking of patents, this lawsuit is patently ridiculous. It's no different than suing a gun manufacturer for not implementing a fingerprint recognition guard on a firearm involved in an accidental shooting (the technology is available), suing an automobile manufacturer for not implementing breathalyzer interlock on a vehicle involved in a drunk driving fatality (the technology is available), or suing the US Park Service for not putting a 20 foot climb proof fence with razor wire around the entire perimeter of the Grand Canyon (no technology required). It's impossible to guard against all possible forms of stupidity. As we've witnessed on numerous occasions just in the past year, there is no upper limit on stupidity. Just when you thought you've witnessed the stupidest thing humanly possible, whammo, you are proven wrong! If anything needs a military grade stupidity filter, it's Twitter, not FaceTime.
    Personally I think Apple should buy Twitter, shut them down, and give the money back to the shareholders.  Boy that would be awesome and we all know why.
    singularitytallest skil
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