Tort Law

Cell Phone Company and Service Provider Sued for Fatal Car Accident

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The daughter of a woman killed in a car accident caused by a driver talking on his cell phone has sued the phone maker and the service provider, contending they should have provided better warnings about the dangers of talking and driving.

The plaintiff, Jennifer Smith, alleges that the cell phone industry has successfully marketed to drivers, and that is why the phones are used so often on the road, the New York Times reports. “They should’ve told people from the beginning there was a real risk, and this would’ve never happened,” she told the newspaper.

Smith’s mother, Linda Doyle, was killed in the September 2008 accident in Oklahoma City by a driver on a cell phone who ran a red light while going 45 miles an hour.

The defendants in the suit are Sprint/Nextel and Samsung Telecommunications America. The suit is one of only a handful that has made such a claim, the story says. An Indiana appeals court dismissed a similar suit against Cingular, saying the car accident was unforeseeable and there was no legal relationship between the company and the woman injured in the crash.

Jackson Russell, chairman of the Product Liability Committee of the New York City Bar Association, told the Times that Smith faces an uphill battle because consumers know it is risky to talk on a cell phone while driving, but they do it anyway.

Sprint Nextel said it rejects any claims of negligence and it already provides safety messages in advertising, packaging and user manuals.

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