Apple sued by parents who claim FaceTime caused 5-year-old daughter’s Christmas Eve death

“On Friday, James and Bethany Modisette formally sued Apple over the tragic death of their 5-year-old daughter Moriah on Christmas Eve in 2014,” Perez Hilton reports.

“The family was driving on an interstate in Dallas when another car slammed into their vehicle, severely injuring Moriah and their other daughter Isabella. Unfortunately, Moriah did not survive the injuries of the wreck and later died at the hospital,” Hilton reports. “According to police, driver Garrett Willhelm was using FaceTime when the horrible incident occurred.”

“Traffic had slowed down right before the crash, and it’s presumed the offending driver wasn’t paying attention which caused him to collide with the Modisette’s vehicle,” Hilton reports. “The Modisettes believe Apple should have put measures in place to ensure the app is safe, pointing out in their suit that Apple has had the technology to track moving phones — and shut down at high speeds — for years.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A tragedy, of course, but who’s really at fault here and what about the legitimate use of FaceTime while in a moving vehicle by passengers?

Apple’s not at fault here. They just have lots of money and, as usual when lawyers are involved, are being wrongly targeted.

69 Comments

  1. So what happened to personal responsibility?!

    Obviously the idiotic and parthetic driver who caused the crash didn’t have any money (makes sense since the person at fault is brainless to be using FaceTime and driving simultaneously), so they go after the identity who does have deep pockets even though Apple is not at fault.

    1. Oh, shut it about “personal responsibility”. That’s Rethuglican code for “no corporate responsibility” and you know it.

      The reality is that there’s nothing Apple can do, because a passenger could have been using the phone. But nobody wants to hear about your RWNJ “personal responsibility” bullsh*t either.

      1. Since when is “personal responsibility” a bad word/phrase? Are you really so liberally brainwashed to think that there should be no such thing? You obviously share the view that the corporate entity (Apple) is innocent, so why the hostility toward the idea that the individual using the technology is actually personally responsible? How is that a negative idea?

        1. It became a bad word/phrase when conservatives endlessly abused it to eliminate any concept of corporate accountability. This facetime issue is not a good example, but look at tobacco, leaded gasoline, and auto safety. Conservatives hate personal responsibility when the “person” is a corporation.

        2. “Since when is “personal responsibility” a bad word/phrase?”

          It isn’t a bad word/phrase. And neither is it a “conservative” concept.

          And can we keep politics out of the discussion? Please?

      2. “Oh, shut it about “personal responsibility”. That’s Rethuglican code for “no corporate responsibility” and you know it.”

        And your idiotic statement is leftist code for fuck freedom, 1984 style Orwellian fascism here we come.

        Fuck off.

      3. Hmmmm….Conservatives ruined that phrase? Really? I seem to recall a lot of flak towards Dan Quayle in the 80’s when he was arguing about music at the time, and the “do gooders” on the left argued back, “If you don’t like it, change the channel. We’re not responsible for the messages we send your children as they watch/listen to our entertainment.”

        Both sides have been blaming each other for it’s own responsibility for decades, and both sides are right to a point. However, Apple does NOT possess the technology to determine the person using FaceTime is the person operating the vehicle. So by extension, these idiots are asking for every Apple iPhone user, and by extension, EVERY digital device user to not be able to use video chat when moving.

        Last I saw, you can now use data connections on airplanes. Does that mean a parent doesn’t have the right to video chat their child from 40 thousand feet while traveling? Or god forbid, the plane is hijacked and moving to fast to “send your last message”, etc.

        I can see a lot of reasons why leaving this as is benefits everyone. But unless Apple and other device manufacturers work with transportation companies to solve this problem, (e.g. Ford and Apple working together so the phone and car talk to determine the driver, etc.- also VERY hard to do btw…even drivers that have to “blow” can fake out the devices in the cars…) there is NO viable solution.

        This isn’t about corporate responsibility Vader. You’re a flaming nit-wit. Like your comment, this case is about blatant stupidity, and greedy lawyers.

    2. Maybe the parents can use that sweet Apple money to buy a safer car for their kids than a crappy corolla. And maybe we can also sue the sun for getting in our eyes, plastic surgeons for distracting drivers with fake boobs etc. Where does it end?

      1. Actually, you’re wrong here. Guns, for personal use, have as their major purpose the THREAT of force, in order to dissuade someone from doing what you don’t want them to do (like attack you, stay in your house after breaking into it, etc.).

        And the real “reality check” here is that you’ve been watching too much leftist media to even comprehend this concept.

        1. “Guns, for personal use, have as their major purpose the THREAT of force… ”

          … which they have by shooting bullets. Which can kill things. This has nothing to do with “leftist media” – it is logic.

      2. Reality Check you need one.

        A weapon can dissuade a criminal intent on committing robbery, rape, assault, or murder without having to pull the trigger. Defending one’s life, the life of another, or protecting your home and property are the rights of free citizens. If a free citizen kills a criminal in the act of committing robbery, rape, assault, or murder all I can say is that the criminal made a stupid choice and is responsible for their own death.

        1. How can a gun dissuade another person to not commit a crime if the gun has no purpose to kill that person? If the gun cannot kill a person, it has no ability to dissuade them. Logic is neither left or right wing. I believe that guns are a problem an not a solution. Frightened gutless people buy guns because they don’t have the courage to face someone who is threatening them. The British police can face belligerents without carrying guns because they are brave and courageous. Police in the Americas provoke people and threaten or just plain shoot people with their guns. No deterrent there. Criminals just shoot first now. Logical.

          1. ‘ere ya go Mate…
            https://www.theguardian.com/uk/knifecrime

            … and when they took away all the guns in Britain, whatcha got is bloody knife crime.

            … and when they take away all the knives, then they’ll have hammer crimes.
            … and when they take away alll the hammers, they’ll then have cricket bat crime
            … and when they … (etc., etc., etc.)

            No thanks, Mate… I prefer the top of the food chain, thank you very much.

            ‘Tis a slippery slope, and all the while your friendly government is growing more powerful and corrupt, until the only thing the people have to protect themselves from the Government will be some thimbles and a few bobbins.

            If you think you live in such a safe place that your government is going to protect you from the rest of the world, you have been disillusioned by your environment. Not only is the outside world a greater threat given current conditions, the Govt. is also now a valid threat.

      3. More simply, a gun is designed to discharge a projectile. It is the user’s responsibility to aim the gun so the projectile may hit its intended target. If not recreation shooting or hunting, as noted above, deterrence against violence or harm is another feature that may not require it be used for its primary function.

        1. Are you saying that a gun’s main purpose is to stir my coffee if I aim it at my cup? Perhaps you are saying that a gun can be aimed at my teeth to clean them. Any logical reasoning person can see that a gun is intended to kill other people and not stir my coffee or brush my teeth.

  2. So if I text and drive, hit a tree and destroy my car I can sue apple because I was stupid? Hopefully this gets thrown out, it is a tragedy, but the wrong party is being targeted. People do all kinds of stupid crap when they drive.

    1. Oh it will get thrown out. Only people profiting from this are the news outlets. Half of them didn’t even get story straight.. Half articles say parents are suing other half say at fault driver is suing. This kind of story is a bloggers dream come true

    1. You can just dial your phone and be distracted. Advertisements and shops along side of the road can distract you too. How about attractive people on the side of the road, can they cause accidents too? Perhaps a plastic surgeon can be sued if someone who has a breast enhancement distracts a driver. What happens if you drop your coffee cup or burger while driving, can whoever sold those products be sued?

      1. McDonalds was taken to the cleaners for that hot coffee for which the driver knowingly placed between her lap and spilled it on herself upon driving away from the drive thru. If my memory serves me, the litigation caused McDonalds to place warnings on “hot coffee” or something to that effect.

        1. That was a different situation. The woman was 79 or 80 I believe and McDonald’s was serving their coffee at nearly 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and previous to her had a couple thousand complaints about the heat of the beverage. She also was not the driver, her grandson was. She didn’t even sue them until almost a year after the incident because McDonald’s refused to compensate her for the 6 or 7,000.00 in medical bills from the 3rd degree burns she received. She even tried mediation with the company, but had no intention of suing. In the end t was the only resolution, and the jury awarded her $1,000,000.00 which she settled down to 600,000.00. She was in the hospital for several weeks following the incident. Because of that lawsuit Macdonalds reduced the temperature of their coffee to 150 degrees (where it should have been in the first place) and placed the warning label on it. They also began using double walled cups (again something they should’ve been using in the first place) , it ended up being a good thing.

          But instead of just saying “we screwed up” and moving on, McDonald’s, along with several other companies, joined the tobacco lobby and launched an ad campaign to descredit all lawsuits as “frivolous” and begin the push for “tort reform” which there really didn’t need to be. Are there stupid lawsuits? Yes. Like this one against apple. But the McDonald’s suit was neither frivolous, nor the original solution of the problem. However the ad campaign was so successful we all almost as one came to think she was some kind of harpie, when she wasn’t.

        2. As and addendum, in 1987 my mother and I were traveling down south. I used to like the McDonald’s pancake, egg, and sausage breakfast that came in the two compartment styrofoam container (like the mcdlt). We went through the drive through, and got the breakfast. Upon getting it, me being 8 fumbled the container and the syrup spilled onto my legs (I was wearing shorts and it got onto my skin). At the time, McDonald’s served the syrup in a plastic solo container, with a hand placed lid. The syrup burned my legs, and I still have a scar on the inside left thigh from it. The er doctor in Raleigh NC said that in order for it to burn me like that, it had to be in excess of 165 degrees. Long story short, my mom contacted McDonald’s with the help of the doctor from the hospital where we went, and they agreed to meet with us. After showing the photos of my legs, and because I was 8 and loved McDonald’s, they gave me a 250.00 gift certificate, and a picture with the hamburger (my favorite character). I agreed, because I was a kid. My mom was furious at me, but in my mind it was free chicken nuggets for a year. And we just wanted the incident to go away. But because of the coffee lawsuit, they started serving the syrup at safe temps also and in sealed containers like the nugget sauce.

      2. Speaking of attractive people…
        I once saw a guy cutting lawn on a commercial lawnmower watch 2 girls walk by with (really short) short shorts. He went head on into a telephone pole. Funniest thing I ever saw.

  3. Agreed with comments above. It’s about personal responsibility and lawyers are in it for the money. When someone uses a product for something other than it’s design, that’s not the designers fault.

    You can’t sue the truck company because some drove a truck into a crowd of people, just like you can’t sue the box cutter company because someone used it as a weapon to kill someone just as you can’t sue Boeing because someone (apparently) flew the plane into the side of a building.

    1. Well, there was a ruling by a federal judge (if I remember correctly) that allowed victims of Sept. 11 attack to sue the airlines, as well as Boeing.

      The two airlines involved in the tragedy are still fighting the suits against them.

      1. From a liability standpoint, the airlines and screeners let those bozos on board with weapons. Should they have taken extra measures beyond the minimum ones required at the time and screened more? Possibly. If there’s evidence the airlines knew about the hijack threat and did nothing then that’s potential liability, sure. The idea of using multiple planes on multiple days was not a new idea – a similar plot had been thwarted about 10 years prior.

        Is Boeing liable? Should they have reinforced cockpit doors even though standards at the time did not require it? Should they have had cameras outside the doors so the flight crew could see what was going on? In hindsight, yes, of course, but again, did they decide in their boardroom that this really needed to be done, but didn’t because of profit motives? That’s what discovery is about in the legal process.

        But this Apple thing is different. It would be more like suing the boxcutter company rather than the airline. Technically you could argue Apple could have foreseen use in dangerous situations, but you can not differentiate between a driver and passenger in a moving vehicle. The key point here differentiating between any other texting while driving tragedy and this one is Apple actually looked into it the technology to prevent it. And *nobody* has ever come up with a solution to it that worked without crippling the product, and most every company has indeed examined the issue. The solution is not as simple as a reinforced cockpit door or better passenger screening.

  4. Must sue the mascara company and electric shaver company for deaths caused when people were using their products while driving, too. They should have had the technology…

    That said, the recent IKEA settlements for $50M were, in my book, awesome and justified. In that case, the company knew they had an issue with a product that had caused injuries and death, that did not meet voluntary industry safety standards, and **continued to sell it** without making the rather trivial modifications required. Attorneys and whopping paydays actually do act to serve the public interest on some occasions. But because not all companies will figure it out on their own even after that kind of award, we have to write yet another law to ensure that ignorant or greedy companies don’t make dressers which will easily topple. Somewhere, a conservative is reading this as “yet another burdensome government regulation”. But it is the role of government to step up for the people when the market economy fails them. It’s not burdensome, it’ the Right Thing To Do and they are just too greedy or lazy to do it unless forced to. If you don’t like government regulations, then don’t force the government to step in and write them in the first place.

  5. It’s a terrible tragedy, and I pray the parents have strength through this troubling time.

    Texting and driving causes more fatalities than drinking and driving, and since Texas as a state still allows texting and driving some would find the Plaintiff negligent for driving their child through such a reckless state. Would you drive your child through a state that had no penalties for drinking and driving? No penalties for texting/FaceTiming and driving is worse.

    Maybe the parents of this innocent child should convince the rogue state of Texas to change their laws.

    1. Yes !
      But laws are one thing and obeying then another.
      Here in Ca there are heavy penalties for usage of cellphones while driving ….Yet everyday i see many many people holding threir phones on the steering-wheel ….texting, and driving. …..they dont even bother to hide the phone below clear line if sight ..

      Personal responsibility..!
      Milking Apple wont solve anything… punishing the irresponsible driver and making a major example out of him will.

        1. Are you not aware that Siri takes dictation and never makes spelling mistakes. I use text on iOS devices all the time and spelling is automatic unless I try to force it to misspell. Why are you having such difficulties?

          1. Even though u dont deserve a response from me.. and u know why …!!!

            But hey … for others who may be interested

            Im not the only one calling Apple Spell check and contextual word recognition Jurassic.
            Compare Apples contextual word recognition and replacemt suggestions to any other popular platform…Any !
            Its not just a little behind… its terrible.
            Let alone the bogus feature that adds misspelled words to the dictionary… and then later on it offers the misspelled word as a correction for a misspelled word. Lol… its a joke !
            Clear the dictionary and a month later its the same mess.
            The least Apple can do is ask the user if they want to add a word to the dictionary rather than automatically add misspelled junk.
            ( also how about higlighting words that are misspelled when i type in forums.)

            And
            Siri may not make spelling mistakes.. but siri makes total comprehension mistakes… left and right… its not yet where one can comfortably trust it and use it effectivly and efficiently.
            Sorry to say.. but Google is light years ahead in language recognition and “this is what you meant” suggestions. And this is coming from me ..who hates google mainly becouse of their ripoff of IOS… But hey credit goes where credit is due when it comes to AI.

            I have written Apple for a long time, years, about these shortcomings…
            i hope they eventually pay Attention!?
            It aggrivates me so much when i see my friends use google now on their iPhones… instead of Siri……….and when i argue with them they give a very simple answer:
            “It just works so much better, both in understanding me and giving suggestions ”
            They are right And i hate it…

            1. Your spell check challenges are not universally felt. I have spell check on continuously and if you read my posts, you will see that not only do I have perfect spelling but I also have perfect capitalization and nearly perfect grammar. Perhaps you might wonder why that is. I would like to put it down to education and ability.

              You say that you have written to Apple to point out shortcomings and I believe that Apple can point out the origin of those shortcomings. They are not the software but the problem lies in the carbon based unit that interfaces with the keyboard.

            2. Ok there again .. you resort to insults when Apple is criticized ………. and i guess u believe that makes you come across as respectable /credible individual.

              Your logic is as flawed as you are a person.. with your constant irrational insults and fanboy attitude .

              Why have Spell check or AI at all then… if carbon based units are expected to perform perfectly …and blamed when not performing perfectly. ( ie.. antangate: hey you are holding it wrong … right ?…. lol)

              “My spell check challenges are not universally felt?” … is the Universe only made up of English as 1st language speaking people with perfect spelleing and perfect typing skills ( sprcially on an ios keyboard ) Or is it that u live in your own clueless bigoted universe!

              Denying Apple AI, spell check and contextual word recognition being way behind the competition is equivalent to living under a rock and being clueless .

              All you have to do is go out there and explore and test on your own. ( three alternatives to try… Google, Amazon, MS )

              Of course you being so perfect , i guess you dont and wont have any need for AI assistance ever… so this may not apply to you or your unique universe!!

              Most people are not in your camp of perfect people … Or billions and billions would not be spent in this field ..would it?

              You are a digmotized, blind fanboy… who thinks constantly applauding Apple even where they fall way short is the right path to Apples success.. ..

              Applauding Apple and insulting critics ….
              Dogmatized blind fanboys… Apple’s worst creation !

              Get a life.. its a new year…

    2. Yes, it is beginning to appear that distracted driving is more devilish than drunk driving. — Not seeing the road ahead at all is clearly worse than seeing double. — And the defensive driver has a harder time spotting, and avoiding, a distracted driver, who may unexpectedly veer or drift. The drunk is consistently erratic.

      Could it be that Texas, a state with many rural counties empty of traffic, condones texting and driving as a counterpoint to falling asleep at the wheel? Perhaps the statute could be limited in populous areas like Dallas, following the same logic as speed limit signposts, which are a function of population density. Hell, the last I heard, nursing a longneck Bud (or three) on a long haul across the panhandle was considered natural, and the police looked the other way as long as you threw the empties in the back of your pickup and not out the window.

  6. Indeed a terrible tragedy !

    Beyond persinal responsibilty
    Re this stayment ”
    “Apple has had the technology to track moving phones — and shut down at high speeds — for years.”

    So Apple should block facetime for all passengers in a moving vehicle/vessal/etc ? Ludicrous !

    1. It also doesn’t deal with the very possible issue of FaceTime being used in moving vehicles by police, firefighters, etc.

      And why is it just Apple that is solely responsible… why not the phone service providers, Verizon, AT&T, etc.?

      1. In the current case the charge for suing Apple is that the APP could have been built to detect high speed motion and at least provide some means to warn the user that use at such speeds may be distracting. If the method involved a pop-up asking if the user is a passenger for example, it could be shown later that the driver willfully ignored the warning and the App developer did to the extent of their ability to provide a safe and still useful App for other passengers. The phone service companies in the current case have no control of the device itself as it pertains at least to the phone App or Facetime App. Both of which Apple has full control of including the device sensors to detect fast movement.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.