Family Sues Apple After 5-Year Old Daughter Died At The Hands Of FaceTime Distracted Driver

( [email protected] ) Jan 03, 2017 05:11 AM EST
A family has decided to file a lawsuit against Apple, citing the company's FaceTime service as a point of distraction for the driver who killed their 5-year old girl in an accident.
Texan couple sues Apple over the death of their 5-year old girl on Christmas Eve of 2014 in an accident, citing the FaceTime app failing to offer the right amount of fail safes to prevent drivers from being distracted or using it while behind the wheel. ABC Screengrab

Apple and lawsuits are no strangers with one another, and Cupertino has been slapped with another one yet again. However, this particular lawsuit does not have anything to do with patent infringements or that sort. Rather, it has to do with a tragic loss of life. A couple from Texas is suing Apple after claiming that Apple’s FaceTime app is the main cause of distraction for the driver who swerved into their family’s car, killing their 5-year old baby girl in the process. I don’t know about you, but this particular line of reasoning does not seem to be too solid at all. After all, why not sue Ford for inventing the automobile in the first place? The driver could easily have been distracted by anything else other than Apple’s FaceTime service. Why not sue the other companies that were behind the creation of the mobile phone, since with no mobile phone in existence, there would not have been FaceTime?

James and Bethany Modisette are the couple who filed the lawsuit, citing that Apple has failed to install and implement a "safer, alternative design" for FaceTime. Such a feature or alternative design might have helped stopped any driver from making use of the app when traveling at far faster speeds -- speeds which are reserved for highway use, and one that will certainly need both hands behind the wheel and plenty of concentration. I suppose it would be somewhat akin to Waze, where the navigation app does not allow you to key in a destination if it detects that you are on the move unless you inform the app that you are a “Passenger”.

The lawsuit filed by James and Bethany Modisette was done on December 23rd last year in the California Superior Court in Santa Clara County. In the very same lawsuit, it also claimed that Apple did not manage "to warn users that the product was likely to be dangerous when used or misused" or to provide the relevant instructions on FaceTime’s safe usage.

It was a tragic Christmas Eve for the couple in 2014 as the accident happened then near Dallas. The Modisette family was driving in a Toyota Camry, and their 5-year old daughter Moriah, was comfortable in the back in a booster seat. Her sister Isabella, was in the right rear passenger seat, The Modisettes had slowed or stopped their car because there was some police activity right in front on the highway, resulting in a build up of traffic. Garrett Wilhelm, who was behind the wheel of his Toyota 4Runner, was directly behind the Modisette’s Camry, slamming into them. The Modisette’s alleged that Wilhelm was busy making use of his FaceTime app.

The suit mentioned, "As a result of that distraction, his Toyota 4Runner, while traveling at full highway speed (65 mph), struck the Modisette family car from behind, causing it to be propelled forward, rotate, and come to a final rest at an angle facing the wrong direction in the right lane of traffic. Wilhelm told police at the scene that he was using FaceTime on his iPhone at the time of the crash, and the police located his iPhone at the crash scene with the FaceTime application still active. 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] ... However, Apple failed to configure the iPhone to automatically ‘lock-out’ the ability to utilize ‘FaceTime’ while driving at highway speeds, despite having the technical capability to do so.”

Do you think that Apple should be sued in this tragic case?

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