Filed in California state court the complaint represents proposed class plaintiff Julio Ceja who claims that Apple has been granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014 for the “lock-out-device” technology. However, Ceja claims the company has failed to modify iPhones with the device for fear of losing market share to other phone makers, to the detriment of public safety. According to the lawsuit, Apple has had the technology to prevent texting and driving since 2008.
The complaint alleges unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business acts and practices by Apple. The suit seeks to block the company from selling iPhones in California that do not have the disabling lock-out device. Additionally, the suit seeks a court order that Apple update its existing iPhones with this technology.
The complaint notes that Apple generated $8.5 billion in profit from smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2016 alone, and an average of 586,000 iPhones per day in 2016.
"With 26 percent of these accidents being caused by motorists using their cellphones, and Apple's 40 percent market share, this translates into at least 52,000 automobile accidents in California being caused by Apple's iPhones each year," the complaint states.
Ceja, who lives in Orange County, CA, was waiting at a stoplight when a driver distracted by her iPhone struck him from behind, causing damage to his car and injuring his back, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit describes the proposed class as "all California residents whose safety has been put at risk as a result of Apple's failure to install 'lock-out devices' on their iPhones," starting from the time Apple began selling iPhones in the state, in 2007, to present day.
Ceja is represented by Jonathan A. Michaels, Kathryn J. Harvey and Kristen R. Rodriguez of MLG Automotive Law APLC.
The case is Julio Ceja v. Apple Inc., case number BC647057, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.