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US: Negligence lawsuit filed against Google Maps after North Carolina man drove to his death off a collapsed bridge following app’s directions

Paxson was returning from his daughter's ninth birthday party via an unknown neighbourhood.

The family of Philip Paxson from North Carolina is suing Google Maps for negligence after the man died upon following the app’s directions and drove his car off a fallen bridge. They charged that the technology giant was aware of the collapse but did not update its navigation system.

A complaint was submitted on September 19, 2023, in Wake County Superior Court saying that Philip Paxson, a medical device salesperson and father of two, drowned on September 30, 2022, when his Jeep Gladiator slid into Snow Creek in Hickory. Google Maps reportedly instructed him to cross Snow Creek Bridge. The bridge had collapsed in 2013 and was never rebuilt. Paxson was returning from his daughter’s ninth birthday party via an unknown neighbourhood.

Paxson’s wife Alicia Paxson released a statement which read, “Our girls ask how and why their daddy died, and I’m at a loss for words. They can’t understand because, as an adult, I still can’t understand how those responsible for the GPS directions, and the bridge, could have acted with so little regard for human life. Google ignored the concerned community voices telling them to change its map and directions. No one should ever lose a loved one this way, and we want to make sure our voices are heard.”

The victim was not aware of the bridge that he drove over as he followed Google Maps’ instructions to complete the roughly 10-minute route home. The suit asserted, “The bridge had no artificial lighting, and the area was pitch black at 11:00 p.m. While following the dangerous directions the Google Map defendants provided, Mr. Paxson’s vehicle drove off the unguarded edge of the bridge and crashed approximately twenty feet below.”

It was reported by state troopers that there were no barricades or warning signs along the washed-out road where the body was discovered in his flipped-over and partially submerged truck. According to the claim, he had driven off an unsecured ledge and crashed around 20 feet below.

The original developer’s company had dissolved, according to the North Carolina State Patrol, and neither local nor state authorities were responsible for maintaining the bridge. The complaint listed many private property management firms as defendants and accused that they are in charge of maintaining the bridge and the nearby area.

Many individuals had alerted Google Maps about the situation in the years before the incident and had pushed the firm to update its route data, per the lawsuit. A second Hickory resident used the map’s “suggest an edit” function in September 2020 to inform the corporation that it was sending traffic across the destroyed bridge, per email records included in the legal filing. Google acknowledged receiving the grievance and examining the requested adjustment in an email sent in November 2020, however, the lawsuit contended that no further action was initiated.

Google spokesperson José Castañeda said, “We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family. Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit,” in a press release.

Tarde LLC, James Tarlton, and Hinckley Gauvain LLC are named in the lawsuit which argued that they are liable for the bridge and the road. The road is reportedly a private one and counties in North Carolina do not maintain public or private highways, but the state does the same for state-owned roadways. Images of messages from Kim Ellis, who lives in Hickory and twice suggested changes to Google Maps regarding the collapsed bridge, are included in the lawsuit.

After Philip Paxson’s passing, his family filed a lawsuit for unspecified amounts of compensation and punitive damages, and have requested a jury trial in the matter.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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