Family Suing Apple Over Fatal Crash, Claiming FaceTime Responsible

The family contends the iPhone app played a role in the death of their 5-year-old daughter.

Dentoon County Courts / Apple

A Texas family is suing Apple in the wake of a fatal motor vehicle collision that killed their 5-year-old daughter, claiming the company's FaceTime app distracted the driver who collided with their car.

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 dangerous when used of misused.”

According to the report, James and Bethanoy Modisette were driving their Toyota Camry with 5-year-old daughter Moriah when they slowed down due to police activity ahead. Behind them, Garrett Wilhelm was reportedly operating a Toyota 4Runner at 65 mph while using FaceTime. Wilhelm's 4Runner rammed into the rear of the Camry at speed, then proceeded to roll onto the Camry, trapping Moriah and James. Emergency responders extricated the two from the vehicle, and all parties were transported to the hospital, where Moriah died due to her injuries, according to the lawsuit.

The Modisette family claim in their suit that the iPhone used by Wilhelm had the necessary hardware to lock the user out of FaceTime when traveling at highway speeds, but that Apple did not equip the device with the software needed to enable this.

Wilhelm admitted on the scene that he had been using FaceTime at the time of the collision; investigating officers confirmed this, as they found FaceTime still up on the phone after the accident. Despite admitting to using the phone, Wilhelm’s lawyer, Ricky Perritt, does not feel the device contributed to the crash.

Wilhelm was indicted on manslaughter charges by Denton County, Texas, according to the Denton Record-Chronicles. He is due in court on February 27th.