Lawsuit blaming Apple's FaceTime for fatal car crash dismissed

Posted:
in iOS edited December 2018
A lawsuit claiming Apple was responsible for the death of a passenger in car crash has been dismissed by an appeals court, confirming an earlier ruling that it wasn't the company's fault the accident was caused by a driver using FaceTime.

Do Not Disturb While Driving


The lawsuit from December 2016 claimed Apple was responsible for failing to implement safety features that would lock out and prevent FaceTime from being used while driving. By not including technologies that appeared in patent filings to stop calls from being used on FaceTime, Apple was accused of acting "with a willful and knowing disregard of the rights and safety of another."

The case was dismissed in May, the BBC reports, but the Modisettes family continued the fight to the appeals court, which agreed with the earlier decision. The court concluded Apple "did not owe the Modisettes a duty of case," as they "cannot establish that Apple's design of the iPhone constituted a proximate cause of the injuries they suffered."

The suit stemmed from a death caused by a December 24 accident in Texas. When James Modisette slowed the vehicle his family was driving in due to road congestion, a 20-year-old driver drove into the back of the family's car at 65 miles per hour, causing injury to the passengers and leading to the death of five-year-old Moriah Modisette at a local hospital.

At the time, the rear driver told police he was on his iPhone 6 Plus on FaceTime during the crash, with investigators later discovering the app was still in a call when police arrived on the scene.

Apple had received a patent in 2014 for a "Driver handheld computing device lock-out," a system that would automatically shut off distracting phone functions if it detected the user was driving. The patent's existence and non-implementation was also raised in an attempted class action lawsuit in California in January 2017, which claimed Apple didn't put the idea into practice over concerns it would lose market share.

The "Do Not Disturb While Driving" feature, which arrived in iOS 11, effectively performs a lock-out for calls and messages if the user is driving, similar to the patent's descriptions. The feature can be set to operate when connected to a car's USB port or Bluetooth, or to kick in when certain types of motion are detected, though passengers are able to override the setting.

A study from April suggests the introduction of Do Not Disturb While Driving has helped reduce the number of accidents on US roads, with phone usage while driving decreasing by around 8 percent and with it being activated on 80 percent of iPhones in the month after its iOS 11's release.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,011member
    Thankfully the courts have more common sense than the driver did. 
    anton zuykovgrifmxjahbladeTomEnetmagecaladaniankozchrisjbdragonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 18
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,634member
    Nonsense lawsuit. It was all about the Benjamins. Apple has $$$ and the 20 year old didn't. 
    TomEnetmagechiakozchrisjbdragonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 18
    MplsP said:
    Thankfully the courts have more common sense than the driver did. 
    One court! You give too much credit to them all. 
    jahblademwhitekozchrisjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    Apple was accused of acting "with a willful and knowing disregard of the rights and safety of another." 
    I dont smoke neither cigs nor weed, but I would probably learn how to, so I could try the stuff they smoked when they were coming up with that phrasing. 

    If a driver needs some kind of technology to keep him safe, because he cant keep his eyes away from the phone scrreen, he should not be driving and his DL should be taken away. Period.
    edited December 2018 viclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    Apple was accused of acting "with a willful and knowing disregard of the rights and safety of another." 
    I dont smoke neither cigs nor weed, but I would probably learn how to, so I could try the stuff they smoked when they were coming up with that phrasing.
    Lawyerspeak.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,011member
    goofy1958 said:
    Apple was accused of acting "with a willful and knowing disregard of the rights and safety of another." 
    I dont smoke neither cigs nor weed, but I would probably learn how to, so I could try the stuff they smoked when they were coming up with that phrasing.
    Lawyerspeak.
    Lawyers spend their entire existence coming up with technicalities in the wording of laws and contracts either to get their client out of what should be their responsibility or to try and get someone else to take responsibility for something. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comes to mind...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    mac_dog said:
    MplsP said:
    Thankfully the courts have more common sense than the driver did. 
    One court! You give too much credit to them all. 
    Did you read the story?
    At least two.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Why sue Apple? Cell phones have been in cars for 25 years. Why not sue the auto manufacturers for permitting their car to move when a cell phone is on? Why not sue the carrier for continuing connection in a moving (to also cover bikes and walkers) situation? Why not sue the FCC for not requiring a chain anchor to cell phones to prevent their use while moving? Why not sue the retailer for not ripping out the tongue and amputating the fingertips of cell purchasers who use a driver license as ID? Etc, etc, etc....
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,935moderator
    Any court would need only run the following mind experiment to see that such a lawsuit has no merit.  This mind experiment deals only with a single dimension of the plaintive's argument; the time delay between invention and implementation.

    Let’s imagine that Apple did implement the feature, not later in iOS 11, but implemented and released it the day after this crash occurred.  Would the plaintive’s lawyers still argue that Apple acted negligently towards its customers safety?  It takes time to design, implement and test features, which then are slotted into release cycles with many other features.  

    To take an extrene example, let’s imagine Apple filed it’s patent the day prior to the crash, and released the feature just two days later, the day after the crash.  Would the plaintive’s lawyers still think he has a case?  It comes down to what’s a reasonable amount of time between invention and implementation, and who can say for any given feature or capability what that amount of time should be?  
    edited December 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,672member
    Any court would need only run the following mind experiment to see that such a lawsuit has no merit.  This mind experiment deals only with a single dimension of the plaintive's argument; the time delay between invention and implementation.

    Let’s imagine that Apple did implement the feature, not later in iOS 11, but implemented and released it the day after this crash occurred.  Would the plaintive’s lawyers still argue that Apple acted negligently towards its customers safety?  It takes time to design, implement and test features, which then are slotted into release cycles with many other features.  

    To take an extrene example, let’s imagine Apple filed it’s patent the day prior to the crash, and released the feature just two days later, the day after the crash.  Would the plaintive’s lawyers still think he has a case?  It comes down to what’s a reasonable amount of time between invention and implementation, and who can say for any given feature or capability what that amount of time should be?  
    It doesn’t really matter what thought experiment you can design it comes down to personal responsibility for your behavior.   This should apply to driving, guns, appliances or any other item where a persons irresponsible behavior causes harm.  

    This is reminds me of the guy and the golf ball washer.   His ability to bring a suit against anybody should have ended when he tried to use the machine for something other than it was designed for.  Failure to recognize a hazard shouldn’t be a reason to blame somebody else for your stupidity.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,424member
    I want to know how everyone else in the car that was hit was not seriously injured, only the 5 year old, wonder if the parent did something wrong and now they feel guilty and want someone else to pay for their guilt.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    arlorarlor Posts: 485member
    maestro64 said:
    I want to know how everyone else in the car that was hit was not seriously injured, only the 5 year old, wonder if the parent did something wrong and now they feel guilty and want someone else to pay for their guilt.
    You have absolutely no responsible basis for that allegation, even if it were true that only the child was seriously injured. The article says that the father was also in critical condition after the accident. At least read the article before you spout off about a situation that you know nothing about in which a child died and the grieving parent probably already blames himself in part for failing to somehow magically anticipate getting rear-ended at 65mph.

    Just to be clear, my reaction here has nothing to do with the lawsuit. 
    beowulfschmidtairnerdradarthekat
  • Reply 13 of 18
    The 20 year old driver who rear-ended the front car, killing the child, is TOTALLY to blame. IT IS ILLEGAL TO DRIVE WHILE DISTRACTED IN ALL STATES. 
    He should have been arrested and sent to prison for manslaughter. 

    randominternetpersonradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    I am always amazed by how many YouTubers do live-streams whilst they are driving. Some are even reading the comments out live. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    arlor said:
    maestro64 said:
    I want to know how everyone else in the car that was hit was not seriously injured, only the 5 year old, wonder if the parent did something wrong and now they feel guilty and want someone else to pay for their guilt.
    You have absolutely no responsible basis for that allegation, even if it were true that only the child was seriously injured. The article says that the father was also in critical condition after the accident. At least read the article before you spout off about a situation that you know nothing about in which a child died and the grieving parent probably already blames himself in part for failing to somehow magically anticipate getting rear-ended at 65mph.

    Just to be clear, my reaction here has nothing to do with the lawsuit. 
    And yet it was the family who lost their child who launched this ridiculous lawsuit.

    Loosing a child is a most terrible awful thing that no parent should have to go through. However subsequently then launching pointless sueballs is a one of the fastest ways for them to lose any public sympathy.

    We all have responsibility for our actions; For the dumb stupid kid who was facetiming while driving -  he totally deserves all the legal and civil retribution available.

    And for the family that launched this lawsuit and continued pursuing it in the cold hard light of day; they deserve all the public derision they're getting for them launching and continuing to fight this pointless and sadly quite laughable legal action.

    In this case, it's only human nature to ask 'Why?'

    (Caveat emptor - a girl I was dating was killed by a drunk driver - I held him and him alone responsible for his actions.)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    Any court would need only run the following mind experiment to see that such a lawsuit has no merit.  This mind experiment deals only with a single dimension of the plaintive's argument; the time delay between invention and implementation.

    Let’s imagine that Apple did implement the feature, not later in iOS 11, but implemented and released it the day after this crash occurred.  Would the plaintive’s lawyers still argue that Apple acted negligently towards its customers safety?  It takes time to design, implement and test features, which then are slotted into release cycles with many other features.  

    To take an extrene example, let’s imagine Apple filed it’s patent the day prior to the crash, and released the feature just two days later, the day after the crash.  Would the plaintive’s lawyers still think he has a case?  It comes down to what’s a reasonable amount of time between invention and implementation, and who can say for any given feature or capability what that amount of time should be?  
    Actually, it doesn't matter if or when Apple ever developed or implemented the technology; it's a basic rule of tort law that you aren't liable unless it is the "natural and probable consequence" of your action. In this case, as the Court ruled, Apple isn't liable for the driver's distracted use of the cell phone, whether it was for FaceTime, or a phone call or texting or reading the news or listening to music, because the "natural and probable consequence" of Apple creating Face Time isn't that an idiot will FaceTime while they drive.  Anymore than McDonald's is responsible for you having an accident while reaching into that irresistible bag of french fries while you are driving, (but those fries are so tempting, buying one for the road may be the natural and probable consequence, so maybe that's a bad example:) )
    edited December 2018 randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,935moderator
    wizard69 said:
    Any court would need only run the following mind experiment to see that such a lawsuit has no merit.  This mind experiment deals only with a single dimension of the plaintive's argument; the time delay between invention and implementation.

    Let’s imagine that Apple did implement the feature, not later in iOS 11, but implemented and released it the day after this crash occurred.  Would the plaintive’s lawyers still argue that Apple acted negligently towards its customers safety?  It takes time to design, implement and test features, which then are slotted into release cycles with many other features.  

    To take an extrene example, let’s imagine Apple filed it’s patent the day prior to the crash, and released the feature just two days later, the day after the crash.  Would the plaintive’s lawyers still think he has a case?  It comes down to what’s a reasonable amount of time between invention and implementation, and who can say for any given feature or capability what that amount of time should be?  
    It doesn’t really matter what thought experiment you can design it comes down to personal responsibility for your behavior.   This should apply to driving, guns, appliances or any other item where a persons irresponsible behavior causes harm.  

    This is reminds me of the guy and the golf ball washer.   His ability to bring a suit against anybody should have ended when he tried to use the machine for something other than it was designed for.  Failure to recognize a hazard shouldn’t be a reason to blame somebody else for your stupidity.  
    I was merely illustrating there are multiple dimensions of fallacy with such a suit.
    edited December 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,966member
    There's already laws on the books of not watching a screen, when driving in most states.

    https://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/video-screens/

    Yo really have to be a idiot to be driving and using Facetime. But even a bigger idiot to then sue Apple over your stupidity. That Stupidity killed a 5 year old.
    edited December 2018 watto_cobra
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