Apple’s patented tech could safeguard phones from distracted driving

From my American Association for Justice daily news feed –

Family blames Apple’s FaceTime for fatal wreck.

AP (1/2) reports that the family of Moriah Modisette, a 5-year-old girl killed near Dallas in a Christmas Eve 2014 crash with a vehicle operated by a driver who was purportedly using Apple’s FaceTime video chat app while driving at 65 mph, had filed suit against the tech giant. The complaint, filed in Santa Clara Superior Court and obtained by KTLA, alleges that police found FaceTime running on the driver’s iPhone and that Apple knew the risks associated with using FaceTime while driving, but it nonetheless failed to implement iPhone technology that would have automatically disabled FaceTime when used in a vehicle moving at highway speeds – technology which Apple had itself patented in 2008.

The Washington Post (1/2, Wootson, 11.43M) reports that the driver, Garrett Wilhelm, was following the Modisette family’s Camry, and police believe that Wilhelm, due to his use of FaceTime, never saw the Modisettes’ brake lights when their car stopped, and his SUV “slammed into the Camry at full highway speed.” The Post adds that Wilhelm’s iPhone survived the collision and when police found the device, FaceTime was still running. While Wilhelm faces criminal manslaughter charges, the Modisette family believes Apple is also at fault, because iPhones should detect whether the user is operating a moving vehicle and disable the FaceTime app preloaded on iPhones. The Post notes that the Modisette case represents “yet another example of drivers’ crashing while distracted by apps on their smartphones..”

Business Insider (12/30, Price, 3.42M) quotes the central allegations of the Modisettes’ complaint, which avers that Apple’s “failure to design, manufacture, and sell the iPhone 6 Plus with the patented, safer, alternative design technology already available to it … and failure to warn users that the product was likely to be dangerous when used or misused in a reasonably foreseeable manner … rendered the Apple iPhone 6 defective when it left defendant APPLE INC.’s possession, and were therefore a substantial factor in causing plaintiffs’ injuries and the decedent’s death.”

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