You Can't Sue Google If You Get Hit By A Car While Following Google Walking Directions

from the in-case-you-were-wondering dept

Last year, we had the bizarre story of a woman who sued Google after she got hit by a car, while following Google's (beta) walking directions feature. The directions put her on a rural highway with no sidewalk or crosswalk, and as she crossed the street, she got hit. She sued both the driver and Google, but the Google part was what got the attention. The woman's lawyer tried to defend the lawsuit in the face of a lot of mocking, by claiming that Google somehow had responsibility here. When this case got attention, Danny Sullivan did a bang up job pulling images of the intersection from Google Street View, which suggest that this intersection was pretty obviously not designed for pedestrian crossing:


Thankfully, it appears that the court agreed with most of the folks around here who were left shaking our heads that this woman couldn't take responsibility for her own actions of crossing a street. The court dismissed the lawsuit against Google. While Google had raised some First Amendment issues, the court doesn't even get that far in the discussion. Instead it just looks at the simple question of whether or not Google owed a duty to the woman, and found the answer to be pretty clear: hell no, it didn't:
In order to assert a claim for negligence against Google Rosenberg had to show that Google owed her a duty. The court applies a four factor test to determine whether Google owes Rosenberg a duty and concludes that Google does not owe a duty. Rosenberg did not have a special relationship with Google. Rosenberg argued that in other cases courts have held service providers liable for negligently providing services to customers, but the court says that this duty is minimal or non-existent when a publisher or other information provider "publishes information to the general public."

The court also notes that the fact that an injury is unlikely to occur counsels against finding a duty. Although Rosenberg alleged that an accident is more likely to occur along a rural highway such as the one she was on, the court says that an accident involving a pedestrian likely involves the pedestrian's own breach of their duty to yield to cars on the road
It's always nice to see a court agree with what basic common sense tells you.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2011 @ 9:50am

    Other Products?

    Rosenberg argued that in other cases courts have held service providers liable for negligently providing services to customers, but the court says that this duty is minimal or non-existent when a publisher or other information provider "publishes information to the general public."

    I wonder if this reasoning could be applied to other products as well, such that "duty is minimal or non-existent when a producer or other product provider "provides the product to the general public."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jun 17th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Again

    "which suggest that this intersection was pretty obviously not designed for pedestrian crossing"

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100602/0259499654.shtml

    While I agree this woman did not use common sense, the excuse that there were no crosswalks or sidewalks is a straw man argument.

    Most of rural Pa, western Pa, Lancaster county, to be exact (The link above has my comments from when I lived in the Pottstown area of Pa.) have no crosswalks or sidewalks. So what, people cant travel by foot? What about horse and buggy?

    Also go to google maps and do a 180 from the view of the stop sign. It is quite obvious that there is a community that uses these roads for pedestrian traffic. Look at the two guys walking down the street.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=96+Daly+Street,+Park+City,+Utah& amp;daddr=1710+Prospector+Avenue,+Park+City,+Utah&hl=en&geocode=FZ0WbAId07Za-SkHMelxv3JShzEh edu1VMYxdw%3BFRNzbAIdCqha-SklNRqTXW1ShzFgleT-h7NYoQ&mra=ls&dirflg=w&sll=40.64968,-111.49 8914&sspn=0.02836,0.052314&ie=UTF8&ll=40.648953,-111.498203&spn=0,0.001635&t=h&a mp;z=20&layer=c&cbll=40.648896,-111.498289&panoid=BVFG5vvK8yfVi1TcqM8MXw&cbp=12,40.3 2,,0,5

     

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  3.  
    icon
    fairuse (profile), Jun 17th, 2011 @ 9:59am

    Common Sense is Not That Common

    Every product and service I use is littered with legal text, stickers and bold notices of pending harm or death. It is long over due reading this happy ending; imagine the new warning against walking Google would have plastered everywhere.

    Sorry you got hurt miss. Next time look twice before crossing a roadway.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2011 @ 10:00am

    Old times:

    Kid: "Mom! Can I go skate at Dead Man's Canyon?"
    Mom: "No, It's way too dangerous!"
    Kid: "But Mom! All my friends are doing it!"
    Mom: "If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?"
    -- Kid goes to his bedroom, grumbling.

    Current times:

    Kid: "Mom! Can I go skate at Dead Man's Canyon?"
    Mom: "No, It's way too dangerous!"
    Kid: "But Mom! All my friends are doing it!"
    Mom: "If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?"
    Kid: "Yes! And then I'd sue them for leading me there, even though the dangers were very clear to me and there were signs saying "Danger: Do not jump!""

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jun 17th, 2011 @ 10:30am

    Re: Again

    I think you have it wrong. He is not saying that this woman should not have been on this road. He is saying that the clues were clear enough that if this woman wanted to use this road for pedestrian traffic, she should have been more careful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    JTO (profile), Jun 17th, 2011 @ 11:34am

    Re: Again

    The court never stated that Ms. Rosenberg was not allowed to walk along the street. However, it did state that pedestrians, while traveling on a roadway, must yield to automobile traffic.

    Even better, even the litigator's photographs show, very slightly, the SIDEWALK just to left of the trees.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    drkkgt (profile), Jun 17th, 2011 @ 11:47am

    Re:

    Mom: OK please sign this indemnification clause for me (since I gave you permission) and this other statement that states I am your sole beneficiary in the case of your accidental death and that your father has no claim on any funds you or I receive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    DCX2, Jun 17th, 2011 @ 1:34pm

    Re: Again

    So what, people cant travel by foot?

    How funny that your first sentence bashes Mike's "straw man", and then you go right ahead and propose your own straw man.

    As someone else who grew up in rural PA who would sometimes walk or ride a bicycle to his friends' houses, I can tell you that when I walked on the road, I made sure to get the hell out of the way of cars.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Jordan (profile), Jun 17th, 2011 @ 3:17pm

    Sheesh. She checked the Google satellite view and didn't see any cars.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Jun 29th, 2011 @ 1:36pm

    Wait What?

    "court agree with ... basic common sense"

    How could that happen?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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