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Lawsuit blames Apple’s Facetime app for tragic death of young girl

iPhone FaceTime

In the wake of an extraordinarily tragic accident that resulted in the death of a young 5-year old girl, the parents of the victim have filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging that the company’s Facetime video calling app was not safely designed.

The accident in question occurred on December 24 when the Modisette family was blindsided by a distracted driver who, instead of paying attention to the road, was engaged in a Facetime call.

Originally spotted by Courthouse News, the lawsuit claims that Apple should be held responsible for the crash because the company’s Facetime app doesn’t incorporate a “lock out” feature that could have prevented the offending driver from using it while in the car.

The Modisette family said Apple’s failure to either program a shutoff into the FaceTime program or give strong warning about using the app while driving is particularly egregious given the app fully engages visual components rather than audio ones as with regular cellphone usage.

What’s more, the lawsuit points out that Apple has the technology to incorporate such a feature, as evidenced by a pertinent software patent originally filed by the company in 2008.

Similar to arguments we’ve seen with respect to texting, the lawsuit argues that an iPhone’s GPS functionality can easily detect when a device is being used in a car and that the Facetime app should be locked down in such scenarios.

Without downplaying the tragedy in any regard, this lawsuit isn’t likely to go anywhere. The distracted driver could have just as easily taken his eyes off the road while watching Netflix, texting, or checking his email etc. Apple may have deep pockets, but it’s hard to assign blame to anyone here aside from the driver of the car.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.