Arguing that distracted driving is an issue for the legislature and not the courts, Apple, Inc. formally responded to a federal lawsuit alleging it failed to design a smartphone that disables texting while driving and thus prevent a 2013 motor vehicle accident that claimed the lives of two women and paralyzed a young boy who overcame cancer.
Court records show that on Sept. 17 Apple submitted a 23-page answer and motion to dismiss into the suit, filed by plaintiffs Kimberly Meador, Amos Standard and Russell Jones in the Tyler Division of the Eastern District of Texas.
The plaintiffs sued Apple in late July in response to the aforementioned incident involving minor L.M. and decadents Shari Standard and Sandra Jones on Apr. 30, 2013. According to the survivors, the three were traveling east on Highway 43 in Henderson in Rusk County when another motorist, Ashley Kubiak, struck their 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe with her 2003 Dodge Ram.
The complainants allege Kubiak was driving her truck behind the victims “while at the same time operating her iPhone” on the “straight and unobscured” roadway when the collision occurred.
Sandra Jones’s Tahoe was subsequently pushed into the oncoming lane of traffic and “struck broadside on the passenger side by a Ford F250 pickup truck,” the suit adds, further stating that Sandra Jones and Shari Standard died at the scene of the accident.
It asserts then-7-year-old L.M. who had just defeated childhood leukemia, survived the wreck only to be rendered paraplegic. Kubiak was charged with two counts of criminally negligent homicide, purportedly based on distracted driving through use of her iPhone, on July 2, 2013, and found guilty in a jury trial.
In its motion, Apple insists its top-selling product did not cause injury to the plaintiffs. The criminally negligent conduct of Kubiak, who is not a defendant in the case, was the sole and legal factual cause, it counters.
Apple additionally argues that the complainants themselves admit “the iPhone caused no injury.”
“The iPhone did not malfunction, nor have within it any defect that caused the automobile accident in question,” the motion explains.
Apple affirms “several courts around the country have dealt with allegations similar to those set forth in the plaintiffs’ complaint and all have summarily dismissed the claims and placed the responsibility of distracted driving where it belongs, in the hands of the individual driver of the motor vehicle.”
“Distracted driving is an issue for the legislature, not the courts,” the motion says.
Attorneys Eric H. Findlay, Brian Craft and Debby Gunter of the law firm Findlay Craft, P.C. in Tyler are representing Apple.
Tyler Division of the Eastern District of Texas Case No. 6:15-CV-715