Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Apple for Failing to Prevent Distracted Driving

A California man has instituted a class action lawsuit against Apple for failing to implement an iPhone safety feature that would prevent people from texting while driving. The complaint was filed by Julio Ceja, a California resident who says that he was stopped at a traffic light when he was rear-ended by a distracted driver. Ceja claims that, immediately prior to the collision, he looked in his rearview mirror and saw the other driver using her phone instead of paying attention to the road in front of her.

According to the complaint, Apple has had lock-out technology since 2008 that would disable its smartphones while being used by motorists. Apple received a patent for its driver handheld computing device lock-out mechanism in 2014. The lock-out mechanism would disable the ability of a smartphone to perform certain functions, such as texting, while one is driving. Currently, 46 states ban text messaging for all drivers. All but 5 of these states have primary enforcement, meaning a law enforcement officer may issue a citation to a driver for texting while driving without any other traffic violation taking place.

Ceja’s complaint references Apple’s patent application to support claims that Apple not only recognized the dangers of texting while driving, but that it also acknowledged limitations on law enforcement officers’ ability to catch offenders due to the fact that the texting device could be used out of sight, thus making texting while driving even more dangerous. Ceja alleges that despite this knowledge, Apple refuses to employ its lock-out technology out of fears that it would cause Apple to lose valuable market share. The putative class is all California residents-more than 39 million people-whose safety has been put at risk as a result of Apple’s failure to install lock-out technology on their iPhones. Ceja is not seeking monetary relief. Instead, he is seeking an injunction against Apple, prohibiting the sale of all iPhones in California without a lock-out device as well as an order requiring Apple to update all currently held iPhones with the lock-out device.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident with a distracted driver, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.