by Graham Pierrepoint
Apple’s products have long since had their critics and their fans alike – but it’s not too often that a major lawsuit comes their way. However, this week it has emerged that the firm will face a heavy lawsuit on behalf of two parents whose daughter was killed in a car accident – as the driver of the car which caused the accident was allegedly using the popular FaceTime app while on the road. James and Bethany Modisette, the couple in question, are raising the lawsuit on the grounds that Apple had failed to implement a safety feature for the app in question – one which, it has emerged, was patented but not implemented in the company’s iPhones.
Apple had chosen not to implement a locking feature that would prevent the user from using certain apps and features while driving – among these, the video-calling software, FaceTime. It is the Modisettes’ main complaint that Apple had introduced a ‘substantial factor’ into the death of their daughter, Moriah, and that the company had failed to warn users against the dangers of using the software on the road.
While there may be validity in the couple’s claim, the issue standing in the way of a successful lawsuit is whether or not the accused driver’s iPhone was the cause of the accident – as the driver merely being distracted may be sought as the overruling cause of the accident. It is, sadly, not a standalone incident, as a similar road accident occurred as a result of a driver using their iPhone while in control of a vehicle – an event which saw the death of one civilian and the paralysis of another. In this case, too, it is stated that Apple faced a lawsuit from the families of those affected.
It is a lawsuit that raises plenty of interesting points and questions – should Apple, and indeed other manufacturers, be doing more to ensure that road users remain safe and in control? Many argue that the firm should implement a locking feature to ensure that a device remains out of use while on the road – but the presence of mind and actions of a driver in question must also be taken into account. It is here that, potentially, Apple may contest – that they cannot be held responsible for the actions of their users. The lawsuit is set to add fuel to the fire – and it will remain to be seen whether or not it will cause major ructions in the smartphone manufacturing industry.