LOS ANGELES — A class-action lawsuit
from MLG Automotive Law firm filed against tech giant Apple seeks to
halt the sale of iPhones in California until the company enables
texting and driving blocks on its devices.
known as Julio Ceja v. Apple Inc., according to court documents,
comes on the heels of a car accident in which a man was injured by a
woman who was allegedly on her iPhone when the accident occurred,
according to a news
release from MLG.
The firm is suing Apple under the
California Unfair Competition Law, which protects consumers as well
as businesses from unfair, unlawful and fraudulent business
Jonathan Michaels, founding member of MLG
Automotive Law, told the Northern California Record that
the dangers of texting and driving are an area in which Apple is
"They, in fact, stated that (texting and
driving) was an extremely dangerous situation when they applied for a
patent back in 2008," Michaels said. "In that patent
application, they argued that the only way to prevent this dangerous
conduct from occurring was to have a lock-out device."
also said that Apple itself acknowledged, in its 2008 patent
application, that cracking down on drivers through legislation would
have no effect on curbing texting and driving.
they put in the patent application is extremely damning to them,"
The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration classifies texting and driving as six times more
dangerous than drinking and driving. MLG's news
release said that, according to U.S. Department of Transportation
data, 1.5 million people on the nation's roads are texting and
driving at any given point. Also, the release cited data from the
California Highway Patrol and Federal Highway Administration
indicating that iPhones are specifically responsible for 52,000
automobile accidents and an average of 312 deaths yearly in
It's no secret that the issue at hand extends
beyond Apple — numerous other smartphone manufacturers also do
not have safety protocols in place on their devices to block texting
and driving. Michaels acknowledged that, although the problem doesn't
end with Apple, there are specific reasons his firm has decided to
target it first.
"We want to have one fight that defines
the parameters of what the issue are, and so we had to start
somewhere," Michaels said.
Starting with Apple,
according to Michaels, was based on two factors.
it was the inventor of the smartphone. It's really the one who, for
all intents and purposes, created this issue that we're all dealing
with on a daily basis," he said. "And it's still by far and
large the dominant player in the field."
made it clear that this is not a case of an injury firm seeking
claims against a large, wealthy company.
"First of all,
we're not asking for any money. We're not asking for Apple to give
the citizens of California a billion dollars," he said. "What
we're asking is that the court ... prevent the sale of any further
iPhones in California until there is a lock-out device that can
Michaels noted that consumers
should practice self-control when it comes to their smartphones, but
also said that the compulsive relationship between people and their
phones makes conduct such as texting and driving impossible to stop
without companies enabling safeguards.
we're not in a position as a society where we have the ability to
self-regulate," he said. "We're just not."
did not return calls or emails asking for comment on the lawsuit.