Court throws out lawsuit blaming lack of texting 'lock-out' technology in iPhone caused ca...

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A California judge has thrown out a suit brought against Apple by the father of a college student killed in a road accident by a texting driver, one where it was claimed Apple had failed to incorporate technology into the iPhone that would prevent it from working while the user is driving.




Judge Maureen A. Folan of the Santa Clara County Superior Court found on Thursday that plaintiff Craig Riggs, father of victim David Riggs, hadn't adequately pled to the court that Apple bore some responsibility to his son's death. According to Law360, the iPhone suit was tossed with prejudice, preventing a refiling under the same claim in the future.

David Riggs was killed in 2013 while riding on his scooter to his home in Minnesota, according to the lawsuit, and was hit by a teenager driving a Honda Civic. The teenager was convicted of a misdemeanor, with the suit alleging he was driving while distracted, using his iPhone to send text messages.

The suit notes that Apple filed for a patent relating to a "lock-out mechanism" for the iPhone in 2008 that would prevent it from performing certain functions while someone was driving, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granting it in 2014. This application was used to claim Apple was well aware of the dangers of texting while driving, and that it was an "unfair business practice" to provide the iPhone without implementing the technology.

In dismissing the case, Judge Folan refers to the reasoning of the 2016 suit Meador vs Apple, which also rejected theories that Apple was liable. In that case, the court reasoned that the act of sending a text message to an iPhone in motion didn't put anyone in "any real or apparent danger," until the driver "neglected her duty to safely operate her vehicle" by looking at the message, and it was unreasonable to say Apple was "actually responsible for the ultimate harm."

In the ruling, Judge Folan advised "The chain of causation alleged by the plaintiffs in this case is far too attenuated for a reasonable person to conclude that Apple's conduct is or was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff's harm."

The issue of texting while driving continues to be an ongoing problem for Apple in the courts. In January, a class action lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court by MLG Automotive Law, giving similar arguments that Apple had the technology and the patent, but failed to implemented it "over concerns that it will lose market share to other phone-makers who do not limit consumer use."

Earlier this month, Apple urged the court to throw out the suit, with Christopher Chorba of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher arguing on behalf of Apple that main plaintiff Julio Ceja was vague about injuries suffered during a texting-related accident he was involved with, and how Apple supposedly caused the injuries.

Chorba told the court Ceja is not able to establish that his injuries were caused by "anything Apple did or failed to do," and that other courts had considered and rejected similar claims. "To allow a claim of this type to get passed, the pleadings would really reflect an expansive interpretation of causation and it really finds no support in existing case law, asserted Chorba.

The class-action suit is ongoing, and Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl did not issue a ruling at the time of that hearing.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    A good decision. As promulgated by the California Vehicle Code, it it the responsibility of the driver to maintain control of ones vehicle.
    mike1radarthekatSnickersMagoolongpathrandominternetpersonStrangeDayswatto_cobrachiaSpamSandwichnetmage
  • Reply 2 of 37
    irelandireland Posts: 17,645member
    The gall of people. Trying to blame the texting while driving on the phone maker.
    mike1radarthekatwatto_cobrachiaSpamSandwichtallest skil
  • Reply 3 of 37
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,674member
    It's unfortunate what happened to his child, but it doesn't negate the stupidity of this lawsuit.  At the minimum, Apple should (I hope) file for reimbursement of attorney fees.  I hope there is some way of also getting damages for what is basically a fraudulent lawsuit.  

    After all, why stop there?  The father should also file a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer for allowing a distracted driver to operate the vehicle.  Heck, let's sue God for allowing such an idiot to be born in the first place.
    mike1macseekerradarthekatboltsfan17tdknoxSnickersMagoolongpathmwhitechaickamacky the macky
  • Reply 4 of 37
    Yah, no one saw that ruling coming.  Huge surprise.
    radarthekatberndogchia
  • Reply 5 of 37
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,161member
    sflocal said:
    It's unfortunate what happened to his child, but it doesn't negate the stupidity of this lawsuit.  At the minimum, Apple should (I hope) file for reimbursement of attorney fees.  I hope there is some way of also getting damages for what is basically a fraudulent lawsuit.  

    After all, why stop there?  The father should also file a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer for allowing a distracted driver to operate the vehicle.  Heck, let's sue God for allowing such an idiot to be born in the first place.
    I would take it a step further. The father should sue the city in Minnesota for building a road where the accident took place.
    SnickersMagoomwhiteRayz2016berndogwatto_cobrachiajony0
  • Reply 6 of 37
    wigbywigby Posts: 690member
    sflocal said:
    It's unfortunate what happened to his child, but it doesn't negate the stupidity of this lawsuit.  At the minimum, Apple should (I hope) file for reimbursement of attorney fees.  I hope there is some way of also getting damages for what is basically a fraudulent lawsuit.  

    After all, why stop there?  The father should also file a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer for allowing a distracted driver to operate the vehicle.  Heck, let's sue God for allowing such an idiot to be born in the first place.
    Going after attorney fees for a case that was thrown out before it began sounds like a bad PR move to me. Whatever little money Apple began to spend on this case was money well spent. Similar frivolous future claims will be inspected more thoroughly by all parties before they are filed next time.
    banchowatto_cobrachiajony0
  • Reply 7 of 37
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,416member
    sflocal said:
    It's unfortunate what happened to his child, but it doesn't negate the stupidity of this lawsuit.  At the minimum, Apple should (I hope) file for reimbursement of attorney fees.  I hope there is some way of also getting damages for what is basically a fraudulent lawsuit.  

    After all, why stop there?  The father should also file a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer for allowing a distracted driver to operate the vehicle.  Heck, let's sue God for allowing such an idiot to be born in the first place.
    So...you're just going to let their wireless carrier off, scot-free???
    watto_cobrachianetmage
  • Reply 8 of 37
    normmnormm Posts: 570member
    As the article notes, if one company places this kind of restriction on its phones and others don't, people who want to text while driving will simply buy the competitor phones. It's like rules against pollution: if not polluting is simply voluntary, companies that don't pollute will be at a competitive disadvantage.  If we determine that the cost to society of allowing texts while driving is much greater than the benefit, then this should be solved with an industry-wide regulation, rather than action by individual companies.

    edited August 2017
  • Reply 9 of 37
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    This is wonderful and frankly I'm surprised a California judge got it right.    If this succeeded and sat a president that somebody else, a manufacture or whomever was in the chain of sales, could be liable for somebody else stupidity would put all products at risk.  
    tallest skil
  • Reply 10 of 37
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    boredumb said:
    sflocal said:
    It's unfortunate what happened to his child, but it doesn't negate the stupidity of this lawsuit.  At the minimum, Apple should (I hope) file for reimbursement of attorney fees.  I hope there is some way of also getting damages for what is basically a fraudulent lawsuit.  

    After all, why stop there?  The father should also file a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer for allowing a distracted driver to operate the vehicle.  Heck, let's sue God for allowing such an idiot to be born in the first place.
    So...you're just going to let their wireless carrier off, scot-free???
    The problem is eventually carriers would be next.    The lawyers have to start someplace.   I really think the law, that is the government bodies that oversee the legal field, should go after these sorts of lawyers for trying to milk companies lie Apple.   The only way I could see Apple being responsible is if the iPhone exploded while recharging.   Every thing else is the users responsibility.   
    watto_cobranetmage
  • Reply 11 of 37
    chaickachaicka Posts: 134member
    Never fail to surprise with the US courts where all kinds of nonsense suits can be filed...
    viclauyyc
  • Reply 12 of 37
    Was the driver using iMessage? If not, would Apple be required to have access to other apps and not allow texting? Does typing in an address into Google Maps count? I don't think it is Apple's responsibility for what an iPhone's capabilities are limited while in a vehicle. If a court can decide that then I would have my wife buy a Pixel, hit me with her car and sue Google. /s
    edited August 2017 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 37
    If you kill or injure someone with a vehicle because you were texting or doing anything else with your phone, it needs to be a felony and carry a much harsher sentence. 

    The real story story here is yet another irresponsible driver got away with killing someone. 
    yoyo2222watto_cobraiqatedochiamacseekersphericnetmage
  • Reply 14 of 37
    mnbob1mnbob1 Posts: 263member
    iOS 11 includes the new do not disturb while driving. I’ve been using it and I don’t get text message or call alerts while driving. Senders receive a message that I’m driving and I’ll respond when I get to my destination. I can override it but that’s included for passengers. It doesn’t preclude driver stupidity but it helps put up a roadblock that they have to consciously think before texting. Texting and driving by teenagers is a huge problem and it comes back to educating the driver no matter what age.

    Suing the phone maker, carrier, car maker, car phone charging maker, city, etc. isn’t going to bring this man’s or anyone’s loved one back. (Just kidding about all those extras). 

    Obviously Apple had its reasons for waiting to include the feature until iOS 11. Holding it back because of competition is laughable. It’s actually a great feature that I think is a selling point. 
    watto_cobraviclauyycbadmonk
  • Reply 15 of 37
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,545member
    So does that mean I can't sue Jack Daniels for my alcoholism?
    watto_cobraviclauyycchia
  • Reply 16 of 37
    yoyo2222yoyo2222 Posts: 120member
    If you kill or injure someone with a vehicle because you were texting or doing anything else with your phone, it needs to be a felony and carry a much harsher sentence. 

    The real story story here is yet another irresponsible driver got away with killing someone. 
    I agree. You can be sure if the kid was drunk he would have seen some jail time.
    watto_cobranetmage
  • Reply 17 of 37
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,485member
    Ending a lawsuit with prejudice means there was a settlement. I can't imagine Apple would settle a frivolous suit like this. 
  • Reply 18 of 37
    banchobancho Posts: 1,517member
    jd_in_sb said:
    Ending a lawsuit with prejudice means there was a settlement. I can't imagine Apple would settle a frivolous suit like this. 
    That's not what it means. It means that the plaintiff may not refile a suit in the future on the same claims. It's effectively dead. A voluntary dismissal with prejudice would indicate a possible settlement between the parties.
    edited August 2017 lkruppwatto_cobraviclauyycsphericnetmage
  • Reply 19 of 37
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,162member
    All it will take is one sympathetic judge or jury to open the flood gates. Personal injury lawyers will keep trying until they strike pay dirt. Look for more and more of these lawsuits in a society that eschews personal responsibility. Eventually the legal system will cave and start awarding millions.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 37
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,674member
    wizard69 said:
    The problem is eventually carriers would be next.    The lawyers have to start someplace.    

    See that's the problem.  Many of these ambulance-chasing attorneys assume they have a case.  I have yet to hear of an attorney say "You wan't to sue Apple because your kid died at the hands of someone texting while driving?  Not going to happen.  Sue the driver/family/insurance. Have a nice day."

    Attorneys don't defend the law.  They just try to do a money-grab and spite the law.  
    watto_cobranetmage
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