A Texas couple is suing Apple after a man using FaceTime while driving killed their daughter Moriah. The car accident injured everyone in the car, but the five-year-old girl did not survive the high-speed impact.
James and Bethany Modisette say Apple was granted a patent in 2014 to prevent people using FaceTime while driving using the phone’s GPS tracking to determine the speed of travel, according to Courthouse News.
The lawsuit comes two years after the crash, that happened on Christmas Eve in 2014.
Moriah’s death could have been prevented if Garrett Wilhelm had not been using FaceTime while driving
On that day, the Modisette family was on Interstate 35 near Dallas. James Modisette was driving and had to reduced speed due to police activity ahead on the road. The car stopped in the left lane but Garrett Wilhelm, 22, in another vehicle, was using Apple’s FaceTime video chat app on his iPhone 6 Plus while driving. He did not notice traffic had stopped until it was too late, police stated.
Wilhelm slammed into the back of the Modisettes’ vehicle. The lawsuit explains that the young man’s SUV rolled up and over the driver’s side of the family’s Camry. James and 5-year-old Moriah, who was sitting behind her father, were critically injured.
James, Bethany, and eight-year-old daughter Isabella were taken on an ambulance to Denton Regional Medical Center along with Wilhelm. Moriah was flown to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, but the little girl died of her severe injuries.
“Bethany Modisette and Isabella Modisette visibly and audibly witnessed rescue workers’ grueling efforts to extract James Modisette and Moriah Modisette from the mangled vehicle, as well as … (their) serious and life-threatening injuries and struggles to stay alive,” the lawsuit says.
Wilhelm’s iPhone survived the crash. FaceTime was still running when police officers found it. The man was charged with manslaughter in the case, but the family thinks Apple is also to blame.
Is Apple to blame for Moriah Modisettes’ death?
The lawsuit says iPhones should detect whether a user is driving a car and disable FaceTime to avoid accidents. Apple devices have built-in accelerometers and GPS that can be used to determine if a person is driving, yet, iPhones are not configured to “lock-out” FaceTime when driving at highway speeds, says the family in the document.
Apple’s failures “were a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s’ injuries and decedent’s death,” the lawsuit states.
Apple has stressed in the past that responsibility lies with drivers and not with cell phones. The company has recommended for those customers who do not want to turn off their iPhones or switch into Airplane Mode while driving that they can also use the Do Not Disturb and Silent Mode features.
A New York Times story on distracted driving argued that cell phone companies cannot shut down a driver’s service without mistakenly shutting off a passenger’s phone apps, or distinguish if the person is riding on a train or bus.
Apple has not commented on the current lawsuit.
Source: The Washington Post