Apple has just been slapped with a lawsuit that alleges its FaceTime application caused a fatal crash that happened in Texas last 2014.
The case, which has been filed before the Santa Clara County Superior Court in California last Dec. 23, cited that the company has failed to implement a critical feature that it already has patented.
Complaint Based On Apple Patent
James and Bethany Modisette, the complainants, allege that such a feature could have prevented the accident from taking place. The incident claimed the life of their daughter and caused serious injuries to several members of the family.
The identified technology involves the patent that Apple submitted in December 2008, which has the capability to lock FaceTime when its user is driving a motor vehicle. It was approved in April 2014, eight months before the accident.
Texas Car Crash
The Modisettes' case arises from the incident that transpired on Christmas Eve of 2014. The couple and their two children, Isabella and Moriah, were on board a vehicle traversing the Interstate I-35 in the outskirts of Dallas.
Another car slammed into it and critically injured James and Moriah. Both were rushed to a nearby hospital, but the young girl eventually died due to her injuries. She was only 5 years old when the incident happened.
FaceTime And Apple's Purported Liability
According to the driver of the motor vehicle that collided with the Modisettes, he was distracted by FaceTime, which was still open on his iPhone 6 Plus when first responders arrived at the scene.
"Defendant Apple Inc. has had the technology to prevent these events, and the Modisettes' injuries, specifically since at least Dec. 12, 2008, when it filed an application with the U.S. Patent Office for a 'driver handheld computing device lock-out," the complaint against Apple stated.
The complainants further claimed that Apple's responsibility rests on its failure to manufacture and sell the iPhone 6 Plus with the safety feature that is already available to it. It also pointed out that the company was not able to warn its consumers about the danger posed by its devices and applications when used or misused.
For these reasons, the Modisette family accuses Apple of letting a device it considers to be defective roll out of its facilities. The complainants further stressed that the action and the liability of the driver who caused the crash is inextricably intertwined with Apple and its culpability.
The Modisettes also noted how Apple already has the technology for years and the patent granted to it that guarantees the company can exploit the feature without competition for 20 years.
Apple is yet to issue an official statement about the case. The company, however, has already encountered disputes concerning another FaceTime patent, as well as its other technologies in the past. The company is also constantly refining the application due to emergent threats and vulnerabilities.