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Family files lawsuit against Apple, blames FaceTime for daughter’s death

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Apple’s FaceTime proved to be a healing tool for one Digital Trends editor, but James and Bethany Modisette believe that Apple’s “less safe” FaceTime implementation is responsible for their daughter’s death, reports Courthouse News.

On December 24, 2014, the Modisettes were on Interstate 35, with James needing to slow the car down due to road congestion. The family’s car was then rear-ended by another car at 65 miles per hour, which left Moriah, one of the Modisettes’ daughters, with severe injuries that later resulted in her death.

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When talking to police, the 20-year-old driver who crashed into the Modisettes’ car admitted to using FaceTime on his iPhone 6 Plus while driving. According to the Modisettes’ complaint, authorities found the FaceTime app open and a call in progress when they arrived at the scene.

The crux of the complaint, which was filed in the Santa Clara County Superior Court in California, does not concern itself with the driver that rear-ended the family’s vehicle. Instead, the lawsuit asserts that the driver’s conduct is “inextricably intertwined” with Apple’s failure to implement a FaceTime feature that renders the app inaccessible while someone is driving.

The complaint also chastised Apple for not implementing the aforementioned FaceTime lockout feature, even though the company has the patent for it. Finally, because the iPhone 6 Plus does not implement the technologies for the feature, the lawsuit claims Apple acted with intent to cause injury, with a “willful and knowing disregard of the rights and safety of another” in order to make a profit.

“Despite both the technology since 2008 and a patent on that technology so it could exploit its patent without competition for 20 years, defendant Apple has consistently and continuously failed to implement a safer, alternative design that would lock-out and prevent use of FaceTime while driving,” reads a relevant portion of the complaint.

The Modisettes’ lawsuit seeks damages, including punitive damages, and medical expenses. Digital Trends reached out to Apple for comment and will update accordingly.

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While FaceTime was originally designed just for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users, Apple’s iOS 15 update allows other platforms into your FaceTime calls for the first time. With iOS 15, when you start a FaceTime call from an iPhone, you can now invite people using Android devices or Windows PCs.
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