Grieving Texas parents sue Apple over FaceTime-related death

A grieving family wants Apple to be held accountable for a traffic collision that took the life of their five-year-old daughter.

James and Bethany Modisette claim the tech company encourages distracted driving with its FaceTime app and have filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The couple are stating Apple had a patent for a safer version of the FaceTime app, but have failed to make it available with the iPhone 6 — resulting in a collision that killed their daughter.

On Dec. 24, 2014, the Modisettes were traveling with their daughter on Interstate 35 north of Dallas when their Toyota Camry, which was almost at a complete stop because of slow traffic, was struck from behind by a Toyota 4Runner going 65 miles an hour. The driver of the SUV was using the FaceTime app at the time.

Both James Modisette and his daughter, Moriah, were extracted from the vehicle and airlifted to local hospitals. Moriah soon died from the injuries she suffered in the wreck.

“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 family said in the complaint.

Specifically, the family’s lawsuit claims Apple had the capability to implement technology using GPS tracking to gauge the speed of a vehicle in which a user was traveling and shut down the FaceTime feature, KTLA reported.

Garrett Wilhelm, the driver of the 4Runner, told police he was using the app at the time of the crash.

Wilhelm is facing felony manslaughter charges. His trial is set for Feb. 27.

The Modisette family is seeking economic damages related to the injuries suffered in the crash, in addition to punitive damages in the lawsuit against Apple.

Apple has yet to respond.