Victim Of Domestic Abuse Sues GPS Company For Helping Her Assailant

from the it's-the-tool dept

Michael Scott points us to the news of a new lawsuit that hopefully doesn't get very far, but which does highlight the frequency with which third parties are sued these days, not because they have any actual liability, but because they have money. In this case, a woman is suing a GPS vehicle tracking service, Foxtrax Vehicle Tracking, because her domestic partner used the service to figure out where she was and to attack her. It sounds as though the guy put the tracking device on the woman's car in order to stalk her. It's difficult to think that anyone could find the company liable here for the actions of the guy. I'm sure it's upsetting that the guy was able to track her, and she has every right to press all sorts of charges against the guy. But the GPS tracking company was merely the technology provider.

However, this is yet another example of what I've called "Steve Dallas lawsuits," after a Bloom County cartoon strip, I remembered from decades ago, where the character Steve Dallas (a lawyer, who gets beaten up by Sean Penn when he tried to take his photograph -- some things never change), explains why after going through all the options on who to sue, he chooses to sue the camera manufacturer, the made-up Nikolta, because it's "a major corporation with gobs of liquid cash...."

Filed Under: domestic abuse, gps, liability, third party liability
Companies: foxtrax vehicle tracking


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  1. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 3 May 2010 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If you want to make something criminal...

    "Wow. Just...wow. This is either a brilliant troll or you just flat out didn't think before you posted. Not that the US constitution is the end-all-be-all for defining rights, but it's a good place to start, so let's take just three examples..."

    While I disagree with his overall conclusion, I think you're missing Lobo's point. For example:

    "So, according to the Lobo Santo Rule, if I can't beat up the crowd of people who come to knock me off my soap box, I really don't have the right to free speech."

    What he said was that any right YOU CANNOT PERSONALLY ENFORCE is a right you do not have. Why? Because you cannot reasonably expect others to enforce this right for you in perpetuity. Police make bad decisions. Governments get overthrown or don't do their jobs. The courts fuck it up. So unless you personally can enforce your right to free speech, you can't gurauntee that you in fact have it at all.

    And using your example, you've proven he's correct in that sense. If you get knocked off of your soap box, your right to free speech is meaningless prior to an outside enforcer. Did the students at Kent State have the right to free speech? They were supposed to....then they got shot by the Nat'l Guard, so it turns out they never had it at all in practice. If they'd had enough manpower and/or weapons to fight back, then they would have retained their rights, but they didn't, so they didn't.

    "If I don't have enough guns to fight off the police when they come to my house with a bad warrant, I don't have a right not to be searched unreasonably."

    Again, for all practical purposes, no you don't. If the police choose to violate your rights, and the courts don't slap them down, then did you ever truly have the right to begin with? Do we actually have a privacy right in this country when it comes to wiretaps? I would submit that for all practical purposes we don't, even if we are supposed to.

    "If I don't have Jason Bourne-like fighting skills, then it's OK if some government spooks waterboard me."

    Don't confuse "rights" with right and wrong. No, it isn't okay. But again, if you can't enforce that right yourself and are relying on a shakey group of others to do it for you, do you actually have that right at all?

    Now, what Lobo is missing is the fact that our social construct as a people make this a lot more sticky than his black and white assertion. While our rights are largely enforced at the whim of powerful "others", those others are usually in some way responsible back to us in a way that holds them accountable. This can take the form of votes, media pressures, buying power, tax dollars, etc. This is the reason that rights in our country are violated by a feature creep rather than recklessly, so as to dilute any pushback....

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