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Apple Sued for Another Distracted Driving Death

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By George Khoury, Esq. on January 25, 2017 3:09 PM

On the heels of the lawsuit filed against Apple for the death of 5 year old Moriah Modisette due to an auto accident caused by a FaceTime-ing driver, a class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple alleging that the tech giant prioritized profits over customer and public safety. In the new case against Apple, the driver, Julio Ceja, was rear ended by a driver that was texting on their iPhone.

While the class action does not seek monetary damages for Ceja's back injury, it is looking to hold Apple accountable for not implementing a driver "lock-out" feature, which they hold a patent for. The allegations in the two lawsuits are closely related in that they both blame Apple for not implementing a feature that would prevent drivers from being distracted by their smart phones' many distracting features.

What Is the Driver Lock Out Feature?

The driver lock out feature refers to a patent that Apple secured that essentially detects when a person is driving, and prevents a driver from using certain features on their device.

This feature is rather controversial. Despite smart phones being one of the most prevalent distractions on the road today, including this feature is very likely to upset consumers and decrease sales.

Class Action Relief Sought

The class action lawsuit is seeking a court order to stop Apple from continuing to sell iPhones until a driver lock out mode is programmed into their devices. Additionally, the complaint is asking the court to force Apple to issue an update to all their existing phones, already in the market, to essentially install the driver lock out mode on previously sold devices.

Product Liability and the Failure to Warn

While some might criticize extending liability to Apple for the actions of drivers, under product liability laws, Apple could very well face some serious liability. Manufacturers have a duty to warn consumers about the dangers of their products. Simply failing to issue adequate warnings can be a basis for a design defect product liability action.

Unlike the Morisette case, which is seeking to recover from Apple for the wrongful death, the Ceja case is seeking to hold Apple accountable to the public.

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