Crash victims say Apple patent could cure texting while driving - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Crash victims say Apple patent could cure texting while driving

Sammy Lane Meador. (Source: KLTV staff) Sammy Lane Meador. (Source: KLTV staff)
Kimberly Meador and her son Sammy. (Source: KLTV staff) Kimberly Meador and her son Sammy. (Source: KLTV staff)
Following crash that killed Sandra Jones and Shari Standard. (Source: Meador family counsel) Following crash that killed Sandra Jones and Shari Standard. (Source: Meador family counsel)
Plaintiff attorney Jack Walker. (Source: KLTV staff) Plaintiff attorney Jack Walker. (Source: KLTV staff)
Plaintiff attorney Greg Love. (Source: KLTV staff) Plaintiff attorney Greg Love. (Source: KLTV staff)
HENDERSON, TX (KLTV) -

Three years after a fatal car crash that left two women dead and a young boy paralyzed, the family of the victims is looking beyond the at fault driver to a tech company.

Kim Meador and her son Sammy Lane Meador are parties to a July 2015 lawsuit filed against Apple, Inc. in connection with the fatal crash. 

The Meadors at their co-plaintiffs allege Apple failed its customers by not including a "lock out" feature in smartphones when a person is driving. 

Sammy says before the April 2013 crash, he was the best runner in his family.
"I used to be the fastest runner on my first baseball team," Sammy said. 

The nine year old Cleveland Indians fan is also the best at being a fighter. 
[The doctor said] I would never walk again, my spinal cord snapped, and…I died three times," said Sammy about the crash that left him wheelchair bound.

Kim's mother and aunt, the driver and passenger in the car, were killed. 

"A changing point in your life that your life is never going to be the same," Kim recalled about the day of the crash. "A tragedy. The taking of two lives that didn’t need to be taken." 

Related: East Texas woman convicted on two charges of criminally negligent homicide

Ashley Kubiak, 21, was the at fault driver behind the wheel.

According to the police report and grand jury indictment, Kubiak had been looking down at a text message just before the 3 vehicle wreck. Kubiak's license was suspended at the time. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail and probation for criminally negligent homicide.  

Her smartphone brand was an Apple iPhone.  

The Meadors' attorneys say Apple could have prevented Sammy's crash if the company had used a 'safer alternative design'

"Apple in creating the smart phone created the problem," Meador attorney Jack Walker said. "They actually created the solution, but never implemented it."

The possible solution, a patent obtained by Apple in 2008 for a lock out mechanism. The feature would disable messaging, social media and alert features on the phone at certain speeds.  

Detection software would use the front and back camera to determine if the phone user was in the driver's seat or in a safe passenger zone. 

Meadors attorneys say the feature was never activated in future iPhone models.

"Whoever it is that has created the monster, you have a duty to control the monster," said plaintiff attorney Greg Love. "When companies are faced with the choice of doing the right thing or doing the cheaper thing, they tend to do the cheaper thing until they’re forced to do the right thing."

Love and Walker say they hope their lawsuit for damages will encourage the company to implement the "lockout feature. 

Attorney Jack walker calls a person's response to a cell phone notification a compulsive addiction.

"It's a neurobiological response from the brain, it basically triggers the pleasure centers of the brain with a shot of dopamine," said Walker. 
"The science also shows people do it so frequently, they don't even realize it's happening."

Apple filed a motion to dismiss the Meador Claim in September of 2015.  In court filings, Apple states "the iPhone caused no injury" and "the responsibility for such inattention is on the driver."

Apple's court filings also make the argument that other 'car distractions' like fast food companies or free hot drinks servers could also fall under the Meadors' claims.

Federal judge Nicole Mitchell signed a recommendation to dismiss the case on August 16.   However, the case remains pending in United States District Court in Tyler.  

"A real risk of injury did not materialize until Kubiak neglected her duty to safely operate her vehicle by diverting her attention from the roadway," reads Judge Mitchell's recommendation. "In that sense, Apple’s failure to configure the iPhone to automatically disable did nothing more than create the condition that made Plaintiffs’ injuries possible."

Attorneys representing Apple declined to comment on pending litigation. 

Kim remains hopeful that the courts will find in favor of manufacturer over personal responsibility.

"I just want to be able to save lives, because two were taken from me," said Kim. "Actually three, but [Sammy's] still here.  And I told God I’d take him any way I could keep him."  

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