Apple sued by the parents of a 5-year old girl who died in a car accident


Life changed forever for James and Bethany Modisette on December 24, 2014. That was the date when they lost their five-year old daughter, Moriah, to a horrific car accident. The family was in their car, slowing down because of  traffic congestion. But a 20-year old driver, whose name is not being made public, smashed into the Modisette's car at 65 miles per hour. Why didn't he slow down? He allegedly was in the middle of a FaceTime video chat on his Apple iPhone 6. When the cops arrived, they found the FaceTime call still in progress with the app still running.

In a civil lawsuit pertaining to the crash, the Modisette's are including Apple as a defendant. The tech titan is being accused of not implementing a lock out feature to prevent those driving a car from using FaceTime. Apple had already patented such a design and by not implementing such a feature, the suit calls the iPhone 6 defective. The suit accuses Apple of breaching its care to the plaintiff. As a result, the driver's careless behavior is "inextricably intertwined" with Apple's failure to implement the patented lockout feature.

The suit doesn't request that Apple add the lockout feature on current and future models. Instead, it seeks damages, medical expenses, and other payments that the court might see fit to demand. Oh, in case you were wondering, Texas has no law against the use of a cellphone by a driver over 18 who is motoring down the state's highways.


It is a tragic tale, to be sure. By you don't have to be familiar with the law to realize that the plaintiff's attorneys know full well that they weren't  going to get much money from a 20-year old. Instead, they went after the deep pockets. And as far as companies are concerned, there aren't many with pockets as deep as Apple's are.

You can check out the court papers that have been filed by clicking on the slideshow below.



source: Scribd via AppleInsider

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73 Comments

1. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Same as DUI people die due to others negligence. I'm not blaming anyone but smartphone and driving is a deathwish to everyone.

22. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 896; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

Next time I crash into someone while driving drunk, I'm going to sue Jack Daniels for making me drunk.

29. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

By all means sue Jack Daniels. Go out of the basement of your mom so you can understand the logic of my statement.

36. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

You have no grasp of sarcasm, do you?

34. lyndon420

Posts: 6793; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

I'm surprised the parents aren't sueing the car manufacturer. Driverless tech and automatic braking is already on our roads...sooooo...since the car wasn't driving itself the responsibility falls entirely on the manufacturer for not looking after their customers. How about the person on the other end of the FaceTime chat...can they be charged as an accessory to the crime since they had to know the idiot was driving?!?

39. TheUnbiasedGuy

Posts: 50; Member since: Apr 21, 2016

Hey I get your sarcasm but look at it from parent's point of view ,maybe they are trying to prevent what happened to their baby girl to some other parents. If anyone should be punished it's that arrogant guy. Does anyone know the punishment for this offence in U.S.?

68. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Manslaughter carries up to 7 years on a first offense.

71. xocomaox

Posts: 200; Member since: Dec 14, 2015

They are not looking to prevent this in the future. Read the article. They aren't calling to make them add the feature, they just want money to pay for their loss.

65. steodoreben

Posts: 379; Member since: Sep 26, 2013

"Apple had already patented such a design and by not implementing such a feature". LOL. I'm not surprised.

2. kent-gaga

Posts: 609; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

This is just stupid. Let your child rest in peace, please?

35. lyndon420

Posts: 6793; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Apparently they need money for that to happen. I'm curious what the outcome would have been if the guy was filthy rich...would apple have mattered then?

41. kent-gaga

Posts: 609; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

nope, more money means THEY are the ones who can live in peace (in some ways, I guess), not the kid.

3. btbotimtim

Posts: 272; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

it is sad but dont act like an idiot.

4. Kdk2020

Posts: 42; Member since: Apr 27, 2016

So if the driver was drunk while driving, would they sue the beer company?

10. donrox

Posts: 201; Member since: Jul 18, 2014

spot on

12. iushnt

Posts: 3105; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Exactly..

20. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Welcome to America

25. majestrate

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 30, 2016

There are locations where the bar that continued to serve someone who was inebriated are held liable for over-serving. I think that was a result of municipalities going after alcohol producers, but I could be wrong. Apples and oranges, I know. NRA should be backing the defendants in this case, otherwise a ruling in favor of the plaintiff is likely going to result in gunshot cases to start going after gun manufacturers.

73. ShadowHammer

Posts: 205; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

They're already a step ahead of you. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) was passed in 2005 to protect firearm manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits such as you describe. For a time, it was popular with municipalities to sue firearm manufacturers for firearm-related deaths in an effort to bankrupt the manufacturers. A form of gun control if you will.

30. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Another one who live in a basement.

5. Tizo101

Posts: 545; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

"By you don't have to be familiar with the law to realize that the plaintiff's attorneys know full well that they weren't going to get much money from a 20-year old. Instead, they went after the deep pockets." wow... iphonearena. I choose not to judge any other part except this site.

8. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

They aren't judging, this is common practice in the American court system. Probably everywhere else as well mind you, but especially here. The attorney probably advised seeking damages through the third party (in this case Apple) to ensure some form of restitution. There's almost zero chance a 20 year old could afford any lump sum of potential funds, so, go for the bigger fish.

13. Tizo101

Posts: 545; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

what I was commenting was the fact that a 5 years old died even though everyone is trying to make money, including this site, I wouldn't make a story out of respect for the dead. Things like this are 95% American - this really doesn't happen anywhere esle as much.

47. lyndon420

Posts: 6793; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Interesting....and what about liability insurance? I don't know about the USA, but here in Canada we can't drive on our streets without a minimum of at least $1,000,000 liability insurance.

74. ShadowHammer

Posts: 205; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

The US has similar laws, but it varies from state to state. Millions of cars on public roads are hard to manage/insure. The liability coverage minimum varies as well, and it isn't even close to $1 million in any state to my knowledge.

6. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

This is so f**ked up.....on so many levels. Let's start with the driver. Wtf was so important that watching the road became secondary while behind the wheel? I don't give a f**k if you're 20 or 60, watch the damn road! f**k Face time. f**k SnapChat. f**k Instagram. f**k all of that nonsense. So stupid..... Next the family attorney. I get what he's trying to accomplish. Hell, I've been in search of potential damage claims for a while now. However, there's no case here, unless there's some new law regarding third party preemptive negligence......which is preposterous. Then again, this is America.....the sue happy "Run & Gun justice" country. Just tragic for all involved....

44. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I get what you're saying, but as Apple has branded themselves so behind people's safety and security, disabling any phone services other than Maps while the car's in motion seems like a no brainer. And if they did have that patented then why not have it out there? It's not like a hardware issue, it's a software patent, and with iOS software adoption rate, there's no excuse for it not to be on every single FaceTime capable iPhone out there.

62. willard12 unregistered

And if you are a passenger on who bus or train are you prevented for FaceTime? It seems difficult to find a software solution that identifies when someone is a driver or passenger.

64. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

There would have to be something like NFC on a piloted transportation vehicle that would activate when you boarded and enabled the apps. Then you'd only have to worry about the driver. But I suppose the company he's employed by could setup something that would work in reverse for their employees' devices, disabling those apps when they board. That's the only way I could see it working. It would have to be automatic otherwise if it can be disabled by the user, then it would be pointless.

70. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Such features are not blocked while driving on any other phone. I fail to see your point.

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