Woman Sues Google for Incomplete Walking Directions

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Park City, UTLauren Rosenberg has launched a lawsuit against Google, claiming that the Google Maps feature on her Blackberry directed her erroneously, causing her serious personal injury. According to the 5/31/10 issue of PC World, Rosenberg was attempting to navigate from 96 Daly Street to 1710 Prospector Avenue in Park City, Utah on January 19.

Rosenberg, a native of Los Angeles, California, looked up the walking directions on the Google Maps app on her Blackberry. She was instructed to walk a half mile down a thoroughfare identified as Deer Valley Drive, also known as Utah State Route 224, which has no sidewalks.

Rosenberg was struck by a car and was severely injured. Rosenberg is suing Google for her medical expenses ($100,000) as well as punitive damages. She is also suing the driver who struck her, Patrick Harwood of Park City, Utah.

It should be noted that the version of Google Maps available on desktops and laptops provides a disclaimer for walking directions. The directions "are in beta," it warns. "Use caution—this route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths."

However, the disclaimer allegedly does not appear in cells phones or personal digital assistants. Rosenberg, walking along a highway at the behest of Google Maps, would not have been able to see the disclaimer on her Blackberry.

"As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Google's careless, reckless and negligent providing of unsafe directions, Plaintiff Lauren Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle, causing her to suffer severe permanent physical, emotional and mental injuries, including pain and suffering," states the lawsuit.

The case, Rosenberg v. Harwood, was filed in Utah in the US District Court's Central Division.

It was important for Google to include the disclaimer with regard to walking directions, given that the feature was in beta and still in the testing stage. However, it could be argued that a majority of users already on foot and in need of directions would have easier access to a PDA or smart phone than a laptop or desktop. One wonders about the wisdom of rolling out a feature app—even in beta—if users of PDAs cannot view the disclaimer.

However, there is also something to be said for the use of common sense over the blind faith some place in technology services.

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