Apple Sued for Failure To Put Safety On Using FaceTime
The couple who lost their five-year-old daughter in a car crash after the preoccupied driver drove straight into their car, is blaming Apple for not introducing a safety feature in an iPhone. The iPhone safety feature was patented in 2014 and supposedly can prevent people from utilizing the FaceTime app while driving.
The lawsuit was filed in the superior county court in Santa Clara, relates to an incident that happened during Christmas Eve in 2014, when the car driver that allegedly used FaceTime video chat application on his iPhone 6 Plus, drove into the car owned by couple, James and Bethany Modisette. The couple were in the car together with their two daughters Moriah and Isabella. They suffered from injuries during the accident. Later on, Moriah died from her injuries in the hospital.
In the complaint by the couple, the Modisettes stated that Apple should be the one responsible for the accident, since the popular smartphone manufacturer had announced that a safer version of FaceTime would be released, which would be able to stop people from using the voice call and video app while driving.
Even though the app was already patented, Apple preferred to keep it from its iPhones. Granted on April 2014, the patent is recognized with a lock-out mechanism that will disable the smartphone from performing several functions like texting, while the user is driving.
The couple claimed that Apple’s negligence in launching the patented feature on their units, or at least warning the users about the danger, of using FaceTime while driving was a “substantial factor” behind the injuries they acquired, including the death of their daughter, Moriah.
There are also other cases that are linked to the case of the Modisettes. in 2016, while Asley Kubiak was checking her messages on her iPhone, her truck crashed into another car somewhere in Texas, which led to the death of its driver and leaving a child in a paralyzed state. The family of the victims of the incident also filed a case against Apple, accusing that the company knows that their phones would be utilized for texting, and didn’t do anything to stop Kubiak from the dangerous hazards of texting while driving.
Kubiak was sentenced to five tears on probation being convicted from negligent homicide.
But, it will be hard for the plaintiffs to prove that it was the fault of the iPhone behind the accident since there is also another factor that needs to be taken into consideration – the preoccupied driver – who could be treated as a “superseding cause.”
“The causal chain can only be broken by the superseding cause and it would release the iPhone company from legal responsibility,” claimed said Nora Freeman Engstrom, a Stanford law professor.
One confusing factor in these two cases is the fact that the accident happened in Texas, the place where making phone calls while driving is legal for drivers and there’s no signs of state-wide ban in terms of texting while driving, though some cities already banned the dangerous practice.
According to Engstorm, “The patent is the evidence which proves that Apple company already knows, has long known about the hazards of using the phone while driving.”
“Apple’s failure to act despite holding the knowledge may not push their liability. However, it will prove Apple responsible down the road.”
There have also been cases where phone manufacturers have been sued for their products involvement in accidents. This tactic has been used in court for liabilities which amount to large sums of money.
Apple has not given any comment about the incidents or the lawsuits.