Apple Sued Over Facetime in Lethal Texas Car Crash From 2014

Kari ReynoldsJan 04, 2017

A couple in Texas, whose five-year-old daughter was killed in a vehicle accident after a distracted driver on FaceTime slammed into their auto, is suing Apple.

The driver, "distracted while using the "FaceTime" application on an iPhone 6 Plus during the operation of his motor vehicle", crashed at 65 miles per hour into the back of a vehicle that was stationary due to traffic, the court documents say.

The tragic incident occurred on December 24, 2014 near Dallas, Texas when the Modisette family was traveling in their Toyota Camry.

"Apple, Inc.'s failure to exercise reasonable care caused or contributed to the risk of causing Garrett Wilhelm to use "FaceTime" while driving his vehicle ... which caused him to be distracted from the conditions on the road ahead", according to the lawsuit.

"Despite the fact that Apple Inc. has had the technology since at least 2008 to implement a 'lock-out mechanism without requiring any modifications or additions to a vehicle by using a motion analyzer, a scenery analyzer and a lock-out mechanism, ' Apple Inc. has never implemented its technology on any of its iPhones".

It points to a patent for a such feature for drivers filed by Apple in 2008.

The lawsuit states that as a result of the distraction caused by FaceTime the SUV driver struck the Modisette family at full highway speed from the behind, which had caused their Camry to propel forward, rotate and come to a final rest at an angle facing the wrong direction in the right lane of traffic. The vehicle behind them, a Toyota 4Runner driven by Garrett Wilhelm, unfortunately failed to stop and slammed into the rear of the Modisette family's auto, severely injuring all members of the family and killing five-year-old Moriah in the process.

Police say he admitted to using FaceTime at the time of the crash and had the application open on his phone when they arrived at the scene. But Apple's failures "were a substantial factor in causing the plaintiffs' injuries and decedent's death", the lawsuit states.

Wilhelm was indicted on manslaughter charges by Denton County, Texas, according to the Denton Record-Chronicles.

"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]".

Filed in California Superior Court in Santa Clara County late last month, the suit also claims that Apple failed "to warn users that the product was likely to be unsafe when used or misused". Despite admitting to using the phone, Wilhelm's lawyer, Ricky Perritt, does not feel the device contributed to the crash.

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