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From Products Liability Law Daily, January 18, 2017

Suit seeks halt to iPhone sales in California until driver-lockout technology is installed

By John W. Scanlan, J.D.

A California driver whose car allegedly was rear-ended at a stoplight by a driver using her iPhone has filed a putative class action suit asking a California state court to enjoin Apple from selling any more iPhones in California until the company implements a lockout that will prevent use of iPhones while their users are driving (Ceja v. Apple Inc., January 17, 2017).

General Allegations. According to the complaint, the National Safety Council reported in 2014 that about 26 percent of the accidents in the United States are caused by cell phone usage while driving. As there are 500,000 accidents in California each year, and because Apple has 40 percent of the cell phone market, the complaint asserted that at least 52,000 accidents in California are caused each year by drivers using iPhones, including about 312 deaths. The complaint alleged that in 2008 Apple filed for a patent on technology that would disable the phone while its user was driving, and received a patent on this technology in 2014, but has not implemented it in order to maintain its market share.

Specific Allegations. The complaint alleges that Apple violated the California Unfair Competition Law by providing smartphones to consumers without the lockout technology that it had developed and patented, despite the dangers posed by driving while using cell phones.

Additionally, it asks for certification of a class of all California residents, asserting that the safety of all state residents has been put at risk by Apple’s sale of cell phones without lockout technology since 2007, when the company introduced and began selling the iPhone. It asserts that common to all class members are the questions of whether Apple has the ability to modify the iPhone to install a lockout device, whether its failure to do so is fraudulent, unlawful, and unfair, and whether consumers have been injured and the extent of their injury. The complaint argues that certification is appropriate due to the large number of potential class members and the low amount of recovery that would be expected in individual lawsuits.

Relief sought. The complaint asks that Apple be enjoined from making any further sales in California of iPhones that do not contain a lockout device, and that the company also be required to update all current iPhones to include a lockout device. It also asks for attorneys’ fees and costs.

The case is No. BC647057.

Attorneys: Jonathan A. Michaels (MLG Automotive Law, APLC) for Ceja Julo.

Companies: Apple Inc.

MainStory: TopStory ComplaintNewsStory ElectronicProductsNews DesignManufacturingNews CaliforniaNews

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