Apple Found Not Responsible in Fatal Car Crash Involving Distracted Driver Using FaceTime

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Back in 2014, iPhone user Garrett Wilhelm was using FaceTime on his iPhone 6 Plus while driving, causing him to crash into the back of another vehicle.

The crash resulted in the death of five-year-old Moriah Modisette, and her father, James Modisette, launched a lawsuit in 2017 against Apple for not offering safety warnings or a feature that disables FaceTime while a person is driving.


The lawsuit contended that Apple had, at the time, patented technology that would have prevented FaceTime from being used while a vehicle is being operated, but had not installed it in the iPhone 6. The plaintiffs requested damages from Apple for its "wrongful failure to install and implement the safer, alternative design for which it sought a patent in December 2008."
"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."
The lawsuit against Apple was dismissed after a court decided that Apple was not at fault for the crash, and as of today, a California appeals court has agreed with that decision.

According to the BBC, the appeals court ruled Apple "did not owe the Modisettes a duty of care," and that it was not up to Apple to take responsibility for the actions of individuals using its apps. The family, said the court, could not establish that the design of the iPhone was the cause of the injuries suffered.

Garrett Wilhelm, the driver of the vehicle who killed the girl, was indicted on manslaughter charges. His trial has been delayed several times because the FHI has not yet been able to gather data from his iPhone, but if he is found guilty, he could serve up to 20 years in prison. Wilhelm is set to be tried before a jury on June 3, 2019.

While Apple was not found to be responsible for the crash, the Cupertino company has since implemented a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature designed to prevent iPhone users from accessing apps like FaceTime while operating a vehicle.


Do Not Disturb While Driving was implemented in iOS 11 and it is designed to block incoming messages and phone calls if a phone is not connected to a car via Bluetooth.

Article Link: Apple Found Not Responsible in Fatal Car Crash Involving Distracted Driver Using FaceTime
 


jav6454

macrumors P6
Nov 14, 2007
16,869
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1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
Imagine losing your 5 year old child.
Apple was not driving. There are Text and drive laws that are there to prevent distracted driving. The same can be said about FaceTime and driving or having a conversation on your phone while driving.

Heck, a phone call counts for distracted driving and can be the difference between being at fault or not if proven in court. Should Nokia, Motorola or Ericsson (given they popularized the cellphone) be held liable and pay the families of victims from reckless driving due to text and/or talk distractions while on some else the wheel caused a collision? Same here.
 

GFLPraxis

macrumors 604
Mar 17, 2004
7,096
404
It is literally impossible for the device to determine if the driver or passenger is using the phone while the car is in motion. It's nonsensical to blame it on the phone.

The only thing Apple can do is change the device in a manner that makes it impossible for anyone in a moving vehicle to operate a phone.
 

centauratlas

macrumors 65816
Jan 29, 2003
1,115
1,459
Florida
Good, they shouldn't be held liable. What's next, holding HarperCollins liable for someone reading a book at the wheel?
One sees it all over, blaming an inanimate object for the actions of the person who was using that object. It is like Rosie O'Donnell and Michael Moore blaming the forks for their size.

How would Apple determine if it was a passenger using FaceTime or the driver? FaceTime can be useful for the passengers. It sounds as if they were filing a strike suit.
 
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jav6454

macrumors P6
Nov 14, 2007
16,869
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One sees it all over, blaming an inanimate object for the actions of the person who was using that object. It is like Rosie O'Donnell and Michael Moore blaming the forks for their size.

How would Apple determine if it was a passenger using FaceTime or the driver? FaceTime can be useful for the passengers. It sounds as if they were filing a strike suit.
Or blaming Blue Bonnet for heart attacks due to excess butter consumption.
 
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NightFox

macrumors 68020
May 10, 2005
2,167
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Apple was not driving. There are Text and drive laws that are there to prevent distracted driving. The same can be said about FaceTime and driving or having a conversation on your phone while driving.
Awful, but that doesn't make suing Apple (in this case) better in any way whatsoever.
My point was that even if the OP considered the person who brought the case to be "deluded", then maybe there was good reason for his state of mind. I'm not saying I agree with the father, just I can guess at his motivation.
 

Dave-Z

macrumors 6502a
Jun 26, 2012
706
1,120
Not Apple's fault, obviously. But I cannot imagine the grief the father is experiencing, so I hold no judgment on his choice to at least try.

Twenty years for manslaughter... The accused gets a better opportunity to live than that child ever got.
 
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Hodar1

macrumors member
Well according to the article it was the father of the girl who was killed who filed the lawsuit not the driver of the car which ran into the back of them
Probably because Apple has deeper pockets, than the idiot who actually committed the act. Go after the person responsible - it's called "Personal Responsibility".
 

groadyho

Suspended
Apr 26, 2018
406
359
Colorado
Just a brief counter argument here, but our car disables some functions on its entertainment/GPS/phone/messaging/ai assistant unit, or whatever you want to call it . This means some services cant be used while driving for those that feel the need to. A day might come where facetime/video calls might be disabled automatically when your vehicle is started.
 
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