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. identicon
    A Passerby, 3 May 2010 @ 3:11pm

    Ethics is FUN!

    First time poster!

    I really like discussing ethics, and this is the first time I've seen a discussion pertinent to the question of objective and subjective morality pop up on this forum. In my view, morality and, by extension, rights are objective property of real events and objects. By this I mean murder, for example, actually has a real property of "wrongness" supervening on it. This is an actual, objective property. Rights are also real, objective properties that supervene on objects, specifically moral agents. So, to take a previous example, a woman has the right not to be raped, regardless of whether or not I, or anyone or anything else, recognize this fact.

    In the island example, the woman has a right not to be raped simply because the right to decide who may touch her belongs to her (I am a moral cognitivist, which is basically a fancy way of saying that I think we can know various moral state of affairs are actually the case in reality) alone. I think a somewhat weak example showing this is the case is that if a bunch of average people heard of this woman's story, being raped just because a bunch of men decided she didn't have the right not to be raped, along with the face she was also raped, they would be indignant that some fundamental aspect of reality (that is, they did what ought not to be done) was violated by these individuals. They might not be able to articulate precisely why it's wrong; they simply know it's wrong, among other things. I find this sort of reaction difficult to explain if rights and morality are simply functionally existent. Yes, I find evolutionary explanations of human reactions fairly lackluster in this scenario, too.

    Since I only have a short time, I could only give a fairly weak thought experiment where moral or ethical states of affairs can be known to moral agents, but hopefully it'll spur some discussion on the idea that morality and ethics are not simply subjective (though some certainly are; and much fun is had discussing where a certain moral judgment falls on the subjective/objective spectrum).

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