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Family sues Apple for auto crash "caused" by FaceTime

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Apple stands accused of failing to implement a potentially life-saving feature in spite of having the resources to do

A Texas couple whose 5-year-old daughter died in a crash involving a driver who was allegedly using Apple's FaceTime video chatting app is suing the tech company.

The lawsuit quotes several studies into the use of tech while driving, including one for telecoms firm AT&T which found that 43% of teenagers admitted to texting or emailing while driving.

On Christmas eve, 2014, James and Bethany Modisette were driving on the highway in Texas with their two daughters when they were forced to stop their Camry ahead of a blockage caused by police activity.

In the lawsuit, the Modisettes claim that Apple failed "to warn users that the product was likely to be unsafe when used or misused" or to instruct on its safe usage.

It points to a patent for a such feature for drivers filed by Apple in 2008. The family argues that the injuries were sustained due to Apple's "failure to install and implement the safer, alternative design".

The car's driver, Garrett Wilhelm, admitted to using Facetime at the time of the crash and is now awaiting trial for manslaughter.

According to the lawsuit, obtained by California television KTLA, police found that FaceTime was running on the iPhone of the driver who was going at 65 miles per hour. Driver Garrett Wilhelm will stand trial for a manslaughter charge related to his involvement in the high-speed crash next month.

On December 23rd, 2016, the Modisette family filed a lawsuit against Apple in California Superior Court in Santa Clara County, stating in the suit that Apple failed "to warn users that the product was likely to be unsafe when used of misused". But Apple's failures "were a substantial factor in causing the plaintiffs' injuries and decedent's death", the lawsuit states.

Wilhelm told police who responded to the crash that he was using the FaceTime app on his iPhone when the crash occurred.

"At the time of the collision in question, the iPhone utilised by Wilhelm contained the necessary hardware (to be configured with software) to automatically disable or "lock out" the ability to utilise Apple's "FaceTime" application. We are confident that after all the facts are brought out in Court, it will be shown that the use of a cellular device did not contribute and Mr. Wilhelm did not commit a crime ... it was simply an accident". Apple, as is standard procedure for the company when it comes to pending litigation, declined to comment on the situation.

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