Apple Found Not Responsible in Fatal Car Crash Involving Distracted Driver Using FaceTime

Back in 2014, iPhone user Garrett Wilhelm was using FaceTime on his iPhone 6 Plus while driving, causing him to crash into the back of another vehicle.

The crash resulted in the death of five-year-old Moriah Modisette, and her father, James Modisette, launched a lawsuit in 2017 against Apple for not offering safety warnings or a feature that disables FaceTime while a person is driving.

facetime
The lawsuit contended that Apple had, at the time, patented technology that would have prevented FaceTime from being used while a vehicle is being operated, but had not installed it in the iPhone 6. The plaintiffs requested damages from Apple for its "wrongful failure to install and implement the safer, alternative design for which it sought a patent in December 2008."

"At the time of the collision in question, the iPhone utilized by Wilhelm contained the necessary hardware (to be configured with software) to automatically disable or 'lock out' the ability to use [FaceTime] ... However, Apple failed to configure the iPhone to automatically 'lock out' the ability to utilize FaceTime while driving at highway speeds, despite having the technical capability to do so."

The lawsuit against Apple was dismissed after a court decided that Apple was not at fault for the crash, and as of today, a California appeals court has agreed with that decision.

According to the BBC, the appeals court ruled Apple "did not owe the Modisettes a duty of care," and that it was not up to Apple to take responsibility for the actions of individuals using its apps. The family, said the court, could not establish that the design of the iPhone was the cause of the injuries suffered.

Garrett Wilhelm, the driver of the vehicle who killed the girl, was indicted on manslaughter charges. His trial has been delayed several times because the FHI has not yet been able to gather data from his iPhone, but if he is found guilty, he could serve up to 20 years in prison. Wilhelm is set to be tried before a jury on June 3, 2019.

While Apple was not found to be responsible for the crash, the Cupertino company has since implemented a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature designed to prevent iPhone users from accessing apps like FaceTime while operating a vehicle.


Do Not Disturb While Driving was implemented in iOS 11 and it is designed to block incoming messages and phone calls if a phone is not connected to a car via Bluetooth.

Top Rated Comments

dannyyankou Avatar
39 months ago
Good, they shouldn't be held liable. What's next, holding HarperCollins liable for someone reading a book at the wheel?
Score: 63 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WannaGoMac Avatar
39 months ago
Amazing, I guess no one has common sense anymore.
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gugy Avatar
39 months ago
Personal responsibility.

It's lacking big time these days.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
826317 Avatar
39 months ago
Imagine being so deluded that you feel suing a company, who's software was being used by a distracted person, was responsible for the distracted person being distracted.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
39 months ago
Skype also offers no such safety warnings. YouTube doesn’t either. Analog portable TVs never came with a warning.

Why on earth would you need someone else to tell you that you can’t look at a video when you’re supposed to be looking elsewhere?!
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yaxomoxay Avatar
39 months ago
Imagine losing your 5 year old child.
Awful, but that doesn't make suing Apple (in this case) better in any way whatsoever.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

telsa cyberwhistle

Elon Musk Urges Customers to Buy 'Tesla Cyberwhistle' Instead of Apple Polishing Cloth

Wednesday December 1, 2021 4:01 am PST by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has encouraged customers to buy the "Cyberwhistle" for $50 instead of Apple's much-discussed Polishing Cloth. The product page, which Musk shared on Twitter on Tuesday evening, offers a limited edition stainless steel whistle with the same distinctive design of the Tesla Cybertruck:Inspired by Cybertruck, the limited-edition Cyberwhistle is a premium collectible made from ...
iPhone SE Cosmopolitan Clean

New iPhone SE Reportedly on Track for Release in First Quarter of 2022

Tuesday November 30, 2021 8:08 am PST by
Apple plans to release a third-generation iPhone SE in the first quarter of 2022, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. If this timeframe proves to be accurate, we can expect the device to be released by the end of March. As previously rumored, TrendForce said the new iPhone SE will remain a mid-range smartphone with added support for 5G:In terms of product development, Apple is...
maxresdefault

Five Features to Look Forward to in the 2022 MacBook Air

Tuesday November 30, 2021 1:51 pm PST by
In 2022, Apple is going to release an updated version of the MacBook Air with some of the biggest design changes that we've seen since 2010, when Apple introduced the 11 and 13-inch size options. In the video below, we highlight five features that you need to know about the new machine. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. No More Wedge Design - Current MacBook...
2017 apple tv

Cyber Monday: Original Apple TV 4K Drops to $99.99 for Amazon Prime Members

Monday November 29, 2021 12:01 pm PST by
We've been tracking Apple product and accessory deals for Cyber Monday 2021 today, and now Woot is offering a solid discount on the previous generation 32GB Apple TV 4K. You can get this device in new condition for just $99.99 if you're an Amazon Prime member. Note that this sale will last for one day only. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
apple top apps games 2020

Apple Reveals the Most Downloaded iOS Apps and Games of 2021

Thursday December 2, 2021 12:05 am PST by
Along with naming its editorial picks for the top apps and games of 2021, Apple today shared charts for the most downloaded free and paid apps and games in the United States across 2021. The number one most downloaded free iPhone app was TikTok, followed by YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. The top paid iPhone apps included Procreate Pocket, HotSchedules, The Wonder Weeks, and Touch...
Mac Notebook Upgrade Program

Apple Introduces New MacBook Upgrade Program for Business Partners

Monday November 29, 2021 7:38 am PST by
In association with CIT as the financing partner, Apple has launched a new Mac Upgrade Program for small businesses and Apple business partners that allow companies to easily distribute and upgrade their fleets of MacBooks at an affordable price to all of their workers. As outlined on CIT's website, shared by Max Weinbach, Apple Business Partners can distribute the 13-inch MacBook Pro,...
airpods prototype translucent

Transparent AirPods and 29W Power Adapter Prototypes Surface in Photos

Tuesday November 30, 2021 7:16 am PST by
Images of transparent prototype AirPods and a 29W Apple power adapter have been shared on Twitter by Apple device collector Giulio Zompetti. The prototypes, which appear to be either first-generation or second-generation AirPods, feature clear plastic along the stem and around the outer side of the earbud, with the normal white plastic on the inner side of the earbud. Transparent casings are ...
apple view concept right corner

Apple Planning to Replace the iPhone With AR Headset in 10 Years

Wednesday December 1, 2021 2:29 am PST by
Apple is planning to replace the iPhone with an augmented reality (AR) headset in 10 years, a process that is apparently due to start as soon as next year with the launch of a head-mounted device, according to a recent report. Concept render of Apple's rumored AR headset by Antonio De Rosa In a note to investors seen by MacRumors, eminent analyst Ming-Chi Kuo explained that "Apple's goal is...