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Texter Not Responsible For Textee's Car Accident, Rules Judge

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the sdn-otbrk-of-cmn-sns dept.

Cellphones 200

linuxwrangler writes "After mowing down a motorcycling couple while distracted by texting, Kyle Best received a slap on the wrist. The couple's attorney then sued Best's girlfriend, Shannon Colonna, for exchanging messages with him when he was driving. They argued that while she was not physically present, she was 'electronically present.' In good news for anyone who sends server-status, account-alerts or originates a call, text or email of any type that could be received by a mobile device, the judge dismissed the plantiff's claims against the woman."

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At first... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114367)

At first I was disappointed that that the offender only got a slap on the wrist, then I realized he hit a massive douchebag.

Re:At first... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114763)

Why is he a douchebag? Just because he and his wife each lost their left legs in the crash while the driver gets sentenced to less than a thousand dollars in fines and has to speak a few schools on the dangers of texting and driving? If she knew he was texting while driving, I'd say there is a small amount of culpability on her part. But I'm guessing that the reason the girlfriend is getting sued is that the kid and his parents have no money. Probably the best the couple can hope for is to get judgement that's to garnish his wages for the rest of his life.

Re:At first... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114931)

You don't consider it douchebagy to sue an innocent person just because they have money?

Re:At first... (2, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115103)

The recipient of such messages is in complete control as to whether or not to acknowledge such messages. Although this might on the surface seem similar to cases where a bartender was held responsible for serving a 'drunk', in this case, the recipient of the messages is in full control of their faculties.

Re:At first... (2)

glorybe (946151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115611)

Some states do not allow the wages to be garnished. In Florida a garnishment is excessively rare although the system has one or two now and then. Combine that with a physical injury cap of 10K per person and the victims can't even pay for the initial ER bills much less the tons of bills and loss of income and life long disabilities. And it gets even worse. In some counties many people have no insurance and not even a driver's license. Retired people who feared loss of life time savings set these laws and policies into motion.

Re:At first... (4, Insightful)

DMiax (915735) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114779)

insightful? are you kidding me?

Two people lost their legs because the asshole was texting. I'd give them a pass for being a little cranky and suing around!

That an AC could be a sociopath devoid of any empathy is par for the course, but mods, really?

Re:At first... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114811)

Having bad things happen to you does NOT EVER give you a free pass to cause bad things to happen to others.

Re:At first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114841)

I dunno, I don't think this "electronically present" thing has come up in court before. So they tried it, the judge decided that ruling for them would have crazy ramifications, and they lost. Not sure how that makes them douchebags.

Re:At first... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114915)

If someone (the driver in this case) because of massive stupidity or carelessness does something terrible to you (or your loved ones), and the state does not punish them severely, then you are given free pass to extract whatever punishment is due. My opinion only.

Re:At first... (3, Insightful)

DMiax (915735) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114951)

suing is not "causing bad things to others". it is simply asking a judge "don't you think this person owes me money because of his behavour?". The judge said no, case closed. explain to me the harm they have caused to anyone aside from the inconvenience to walk to court? something that incidentally the defendant did not even do?

But then again, if you cannot even muster the sympathy to excuse the act of "slightly inconveniencing" by the injured couple, I don't think we can ever agree.

Of course you don't have to, it is just that for functioning human beings it is natural to be understanding to people that suffered a loss.

Re:At first... (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115083)

suing is not "causing bad things to others". it is simply asking a judge "don't you think this person owes me money because of his behavour?". The judge said no, case closed. explain to me the harm they have caused to anyone aside from the inconvenience to walk to court?

Sorry, no. Suing someone is saying, "I think this person has done me harm enough that I will take the court's time and incur legal fees to get what I think is coming to me."

For someone who doesn't have a lawyer on retainer, being sued will generally cost a minimum of several hundred dollars.

Re:At first... (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115233)

suing is not "causing bad things to others". it is simply asking a judge "don't you think this person owes me money because of his behavour?". The judge said no, case closed.

Sure, as long as they pay the defendant's court costs for bringing such a stupid lawsuit, I'm okay with it. (as it is the article has been slashdotted so I can't read whether or not they did)

Re:At first... (5, Insightful)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115385)

explain to me the harm they have caused to anyone aside from the inconvenience to walk to court?

Walking to court costs nothing.

Walking to court with a lawyer will cost you $600/hr, for who knows how many hours to prepare for the completely baseless case. Luckily she had a judge that was smart enough to throw the case out quickly. God help her if this was dragged to trial, as the 'inconvenience' could have run into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

They are assholes for dragging a woman into court that they know is completely innocent. Period.

Re:At first... (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115635)

I think the law needs to be altered to change that from "assholes" to "criminals" at the judges discretion.

Re:At first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115785)

What about walking to court on one leg?

Re:At first... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115915)

They have two legs between them, so they just need to hold each other.

They should be thanking the driver for bringing them closer together as a couple.

Re:At first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114893)

What about the empathy of the injured party? Just because someone caused them harm doesn't allow them to sue the crap out of everyone they can ignoring any effect it might have on another innocent person.

Re:At first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115139)

As a different AC, I have empathy that they got hit. I don't have empathy for them trying to take to court something that 30 seconds or so of thought would indicate is ridiculous.

Re:At first... (5, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115667)

Actually, they were injured because some asshole was reading texts (OK, maybe he was replying as well). But he didn't have the good sense to leave his f*cking phone alone while driving.

The fact that the driver's sentence was just a slap on the wrist is what is disturbing. But just going after the next person with deep pockets or a paid up liability policy is ludicrous.

Also good news for... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114383)

...people with an ounce of common sense who get ill at stupidity and greediness via lawsuits.

Re:Also good news for... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114511)

I don't think it's greed that motivates two people who've both lost limbs due to someone else's reckless driving to sue whomever their lawyer says they should name in the suit. They've been deprived of something most of us take for granted (basic mobility), and should have the right pursue compensation for the difficulty they'll face the rest of their lives. The stupid shyster they hired simply gave them really misguided legal advice, that's all.

Re:Also good news for... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114569)

But anyone with an ounce of logic can see it is bad to sue someone who is not responsible. This is completely money grabbing. Just because you have been injured doesn't mean you should try and ruin everybody else's life.

Re:Also good news for... (4, Interesting)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115143)

No, this had nothing to do trying to get money from her.

When something bad happens, you sue everybody who's connected to the defendant and to the incident in any way. That's the standard unofficial rule. By doing that, you're hoping that the defendants turn on each other, or at the very minimum, that one of them talks too much.

Re:Also good news for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115789)

this had nothing to do trying to get money

Then why sue anybody at all?

Re:Also good news for... (4, Interesting)

SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115975)

this had nothing to do trying to get money

Then why sue anybody at all?

Because that's the only system we have. IANAL, but I don't think they could sue anyone asking for a "permanent cell phone" ban (not that it would be enforceable anyway).

Personally I'd rather see them sue asking for the removal of the driver's thumbs. Because if there's any chance to make the driver believe even for a second that he could actually lose his thumbs, he might finally understand that he shouldn't be playing with his damn phone while driving.

P.S. I completely disagree with them suing the girlfriend, but I can't say that I wouldn't get equally suckered by a slick-talking lawyer in a similar situation. Walk a mile, and all that...

Re:Also good news for... (4, Insightful)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114573)

So you're saying that this couple should not have applied basic logic to what their lawyer was telling them?

If the distracted driver had been listening to the radio instead, should they have sued the radio station?

Re:Also good news for... (2)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116393)

It's certainly reasonable for someone to think, "this lawyer's advice is awfully illogical and almost evil." But the law is a regulated profession. How often is common sense really useful in law? We trust lawyers, enforced by regulation, to give their clients good legal advice because a client cannot be expected to differentiate between a good and a bad legal strategy. The same is true of doctors or any other licensed and regulated profession. You should be comfortable in trusting the advice of your lawyer; if your lawyer gives you bad advice, the onus is on them as a professional.

Re:Also good news for... (4, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114849)

    The greedy part was suing someone who wasn't involved.

    If the guy was listening to talk radio, and something they said something that distracted him, would the radio station, or those talking on the radio be at fault? No. The argument is the same. They (those on the radio) have a reasonable expectation that people may be listening while driving. That's the only time a lot of us listen. Morning and evening commutes have higher advertising costs, because they know that's the peak time for listeners. They don't only expect it, they profit from it.

    Is it their fault for making the driver pay more attention to the radio than to the road around him? No. The fault was assigned properly in the beginning, with the driver who committed the action. Going anywhere beyond that is trying to profit from the incident. Will they continue on and sue the telephone manufacturer? the carrier? the vehicle manufacturers? the city/count/state highway department? any store front near the incident? owners and advertisers of any billboards that may have been visible? How about the girl jogging, she was clearly a severe distraction.

    You *can* sue all of them. You probably won't win any of them, and will make a lot of enemies along the way. That's one of the wonders of our legal system. You can sue anyone you want, any time you want, for pretty much anything you want. It doesn't mean you'll win.

    I have sympathy for the people who were injured. Life sucks. I know.

Re:Also good news for... (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115121)

I don't think it's greed that motivates two people who've both lost limbs due to someone else's reckless driving to sue whomever their lawyer says they should name in the suit.

The job of the lawyer is to suggest all possible avenues of recourse. The job of the people in the accident is to realize that the person sending the text is in no way responsible and telling the lawyer not to submit them to a frivolous lawsuit.

If someone doesn't have a lawyer on retainer, it's going to cost them hundreds of dollars to deal with being sued, even if they're completely innocent.

Re:Also good news for... (1)

randall77 (1069956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115695)

> The job of the lawyer is to suggest all possible avenues of recourse.

No it isn't. The job of the lawyer is to advocate for his client. Suggesting to the clients dumb ideas which won't work and will only end up costing them legal fees is not advocating.

Who proved the collision was an accident? (1, Informative)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114433)

The collision appears to be caused by negligence, and was not simply an accident. "Accident" is a euphamism, a weasel word designed to make the violation appear less severe.

Please stop politicizing the headlines, Slashdot.

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (4, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114497)

Well in law, at least in Canada accidents are described to something that is done by fault with no malice or direct negligence intended. Criminal negligence causing bodily harm is what this case amounts to.

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115113)

Canada also has reasonable tort laws and malicious prosecution rules that would have prevented this case from ever getting before a judge in the first place.

It was certainly negligence, and the people in question have every right to go after the insurance company of the driver for lost wages, hardship, etc. The insurance company can, in turn, go after the driver to recoup their losses, as you are correct that this is criminal negligence and the driver was not obeying the rules of the road. The driver's girlfriend, however, has no responsibility in this... he's the one who was responding to her texts while driving. At least, in Canada that's how it would play out. I'm relieved to hear that the US still has some sane judges on the bench.

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115213)

Canada also has reasonable tort laws and malicious prosecution rules that would have prevented this case from ever getting before a judge in the first place.

Yeah that doesn't stop people from going insane, and trying to make it like the US though. At least sanity rules the day.

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114679)

Methinks you might be the one politicizing this. I'm not sure about other people, but I find the term 'car accident' to be basically synonymous with terms like 'car wreck' or 'car crash' and not necessarily to be indication of severity or fault of the people involved.

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (2)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114963)

I find the term 'car accident' to be basically synonymous with terms like 'car wreck' or 'car crash' and not necessarily to be indication of severity or fault of the people involved.

This proves that you haven't yet broken your conditioning by Big Oil and the pro-automobile lobby to trivialize the problems of living in an automobile-centric society. Wake up!

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115257)

This proves that you haven't yet broken your conditioning by Big Oil and the pro-automobile lobby to trivialize the problems of living in an automobile-centric society. Wake up!

And this proves that you haven't broken your conditioning of being Bat Shit Crazy!

They are properly termed "traffic collisions" (1)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115053)

Back in another life when I worked in law-enforcement the correct term to use was "traffic collision." This is how you will see it reported on the California Highway Patrol incident page: http://cad.chp.ca.gov/ [ca.gov]

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114699)

The collision appears to be caused by negligence, and was not simply an accident. "Accident" is a euphamism, a weasel word designed to make the violation appear less severe.

Please stop politicizing the headlines, Slashdot.

I've generally heard (and used) the word accident to describe pretty much any collision other than one where the driver was deliberately aiming to hit someone.

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114821)

I've generally heard (and used) the word accident to describe pretty much any collision other than one where the driver was deliberately aiming to hit someone.

I've seen "deliberately caused an accident" a few times, as absurd as it sounds.

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115247)

"Accident" is a euphamism, a weasel word designed to make the violation appear less severe.

Admit it, you have been watching "Hot Fuzz" [imdb.com] haven't you?

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115423)

The collision appears to be caused by negligence, and was not simply an accident.

The way I read the article, nothing suggests the collision was caused by negligence. I think the article would have been written differently if this was the case. An attentive driver might have resulted in a 25 mph collision instead of a 45 mph collision, or hitting a car in another lane to avoid hitting the motorcycle...

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40116089)

Okay.

Please suggest a single word for "collission caused by negligence".

Accident is the closet one I know. But hey, feel free to try to control language so you can reframe a debate in an attempt to politicize it and cause a cultural paradigm shift.

Actually...don't. Some of us will call you on it and think less of you for it.

But seriously...got a word for your idea?

Re:Who proved the collision was an accident? (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116203)

Please suggest a single word for "collission caused by negligence".

Please explain why such detail is necessary. Simply the word "collision" is all that's needed for this headline.

Good ruling in THIS case..... (4, Insightful)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114479)

I agree that the texter is not responsible for the accident, but the initial ruling:'the slap on the wrist' that the textee got, well, IMHO, $775.00 USD is way too small compensation for two innocent victims, both of which had to undergo leg amputations as a result of textee's 'distracted driving'.

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114523)

WTF? 775 dollars?

In Heinlein's world, he'd have gotten leg amputations as punishment himself!

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (4, Informative)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114545)

IMHO, $775.00 USD is way too small compensation for two innocent victims

That was a penalty, not compensation. They're still sorting that bit out.

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114613)

Funny how when we're talking about life and limb, the penalty is much less than the compensation. But when it comes to mp3s, the penalty is far far in excess of what would be compensatory.

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (3, Insightful)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114691)

Don't you understand why? If you watch a youtube video with a song in it, you're depriving the artist of money for their work. It's just like cutting off the hands that played the instrument. But in today's society, these rights are held by corporations which are made up of thousands of people. That's thousands and thousands of hands that you cut off on purpose. Of course there's a higher penalty than smashing off two legs accidentally!

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115283)

If you watch a youtube video with a song in it...It's just like cutting off the hands that played the instrument.

I have no idea where you crazy copyright-lobby-sympathizers come up with these absolutely ridiculous analogies, but seriously - no one is buying it!

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (2)

SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116001)

I have no idea where you crazy copyright-lobby-sympathizers come up with these absolutely ridiculous analogies, but seriously - no one is buying it!

That's the problem. They're downloading it for free instead.

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116161)

You clearly have trouble identifying satire.

At least, I hope that's satire.

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114707)

I bet that $775 is penalty paid to the government. For mp3s, the outrageous penalties that you hear are for "lost" revenue, i.e. compensatory.

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114881)

There is no way that the music companies lost $22500 because somebody put one song up for download.

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114639)

Ahh...that was not mentioned in TFA.
The few bits they did give out was the $775 fine and 50 hours community service.

I would have linked to both rulings if I had submitted this one. :-)

Thanks for the update/correction!

775 fine for permanently disabling two people?! (2)

fantomas (94850) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114649)

Can somebody with more knowledge ofthe US legal system explain what appears to be a tiny penalty for crashing into and permanently disabling two people? I would have expected a more serious punishment.

Is this a typical punishment for this kind of crime?

Re:775 fine for permanently disabling two people?! (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114781)

In my city, you have to keep the sidewalk clear of ice. You can get a $100 penalty for not doing it. It's rarely enforced unless they're trying to lay pressure on an absentee landlord, or if you live in a wealthier area.

Anyway, if somebody slipped and hurt themselves because I didn't maintain my sidewalk, I would totally get slapped with a $100 fine. The city wouldn't pursue it further because that's all I've done wrong. On the other hand, the person who slipped could sue me for medical bills, etc.

In this case, it seems that he got a typical penalty for distracted driving. Probably closer to the maximum, given the circumstances, but I'm not sure. He'll still end up paying the injured couple more directly in a different court.

Canada isn't big on harsh punishments (0)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114787)

Their jail sentences, fines, and so on are much, much lighter than the US. Remember it is a different country, different laws and all that.

If it is a good thing or not is up for debate but the violent crime per capita statistics make for an interesting comparison.

Re:775 fine for permanently disabling two people?! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114799)

>Is this a typical punishment for this kind of crime?

This is america. As no corporations were harmed in the accident, they don't give a shit.

Re:775 fine for permanently disabling two people?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114843)

No, it's not unusual. Car crashes almost never result in criminal prosecution in the United States. This is true even for crashes that are clearly caused by negligence.

There are rare exceptions if the victim is especially sympathetic and the driver is especially undesirable. For example, an immigrant who kills an attractive and wealthy white person may face jail time. But otherwise, prosecution is very, very rare.

Re:775 fine for permanently disabling two people?! (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115271)

FTA, the charge was "distracted driving", not something closer in meaning to "crashing into a vehicle/motorcycle and causing injury" or even "failure to control vehicle". The fine & speaking tour seems more reasonable to me considering it was for the distracted driving charge. I've known people to get more tickets in no-injury collisions.

Reading the article, it looks like this happened in 2009, and no other charges or details were mentioned - so I'm guessing there is more to the story here. There are many possibilities, but my guess is that the situation would have resulted in something happening even if the truck driver was paying full attention to the road - could have been a near miss, could have been a lower speed collision...

Re:775 fine for permanently disabling two people?! (1)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115739)

The US legal system seperates civial law suits from criminal law.

Criminal law applies punishment based on what laws were broken. This usually includes fines, and may include punishment such as license suspension and jail time. If he had been drunk when he hit the motorcyclist, he'd probably be in jail now. But texting isn't treated the same way, so the punishment isn't severe. The fines here are probably along the lines of 'distracted driving, resulting in bodily injury.' The facts of this case are probably simple, and the driver probably plead 'no contest.'

Civil law comes into play when you've harmed someone. Civil law seeks to make the harmed party whole, and put a $$$ figure on both tangable losses (motorcycle is broken, and can't work) as well as intangable losses (the riders are emotionally traumatized.) This case is going to be a big battle, because they need to determine the level of liability, as well as what is just compensation. The end award will probably be hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars. Civil court cannot directly send someone to jail.

Criminal law is a crime against the people, and prosocuted by the DA. Civil law is about injury to the plaintiff, and is usually prosocuted by the plaintiff's lawyer.

Re:Good ruling in THIS case..... (1)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114629)

I agree that the texter is not responsible for the accident, but the initial ruling:'the slap on the wrist' that the textee got, well, IMHO, $775.00 USD is way too small compensation for two innocent victims, both of which had to undergo leg amputations as a result of textee's 'distracted driving'.

wow, that's brutal. he won't be able to afford an iPhone 4S without signing up for a new contract.

it is an interesting bit of moral responsibility (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114499)

if i get the sense i'm talking to someone who is driving, i will say "are you driving? i'll get off the phone"

it's not about being a hyperactive boy scout, it's not about the law, it's about living with myself. because if i am on the phone with someone while they are driving and i am AWARE of it, then i am responsible for continuing the conversation, and helping to keep the driver distracted

i have to live with myself. and i have to respect myself

Re:it is an interesting bit of moral responsibilit (1)

DMiax (915735) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114553)

sure, this is good practice. but if you don't know, or are too distracted to notice it is still not your responsibility. being a text, it seems reasonable to assume that the receiver will read it when it is appropriate to do so.

Re:it is an interesting bit of moral responsibilit (3, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114765)

If you don't answer the IM, it remains in your inbox just like an email. If you are unavaliable to take the call, IM, or Email while driving, let it go to voicemail, inbox, etc. I'll still be there when you have time to deal with it.

In many places distracted driving due to phone use is illegal. My contacts know I don't take calls while driving, but I am aware I have a message, either voicemail or text.

The illegal act or dangerous act was the driver's responsibility. I'm not sure if texting while driving is lillegal where he was, but it is still dangerous, which was demonstrated by the driver.

Re:it is an interesting bit of moral responsibilit (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115055)

    It's not your responsibility to make sure the other person is behaving properly. Do you ask if they just put the baby in the bath, or put a pan full of oil on the stove? I kind of doubt it.

    On plenty of occasions, I have answered to say "I'm driving, I'll call you back in a few." If I'm of the belief that where I am driving is too difficult to even do that, I let the phone ring. It's the difference between a long straight empty highway, or navigating city streets with other drivers around.

    What if your "sense" isn't right. For example, my mom drives a nice car, that's dead silent inside. Her calls go through via bluetooth to the cars sound system. I can't tell the difference if she's out somewhere, driving, or sitting at home and didn't get to the home phone first. She will tell me "I'm driving, let me call you back."

   

Re:it is an interesting bit of moral responsibilit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40116223)

He didn't say he did it out of a sense of responsibility, it's just plain old good nature and kindness. If you're talking to someone and suspect you're distracting them, it's simple courtesy to offer to call back later. You don't understand civilization too well, do you? Nobody was suggesting you start mind-reading.

Different than FB (1)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114503)

Posting on FB is for everyone I think while texting is for a specific person so I think even if the judge had ruled otherwise it would not have applied to FB stuff. That said, it was the responsibility of the driver to not text while driving, unless he got a text message saying " I know you are driving lets sext chat"

slap on the wrist: (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114505)

"Best was ordered to speak to 14 high schools about the dangers of texting and driving and had to pay about $775 in fines, but his driver's license was not suspended."

would have been pretty far fetched if you'd be liable for sending txt's as distraction to someone though... quite ridiculous even. but as publicity stunt it works ok. anyhow, terrorists should just drive around in vans with gas containers texting each others it seems, it's a pretty low fine for putting two people on insurance living for the rest of their lives. (yay a card!).

Re:slap on the wrist: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114795)

"Best was ordered to speak to 14 high schools about the dangers of texting and driving and had to pay about $775 in fines, but his driver's license was not suspended."

Seems that this guy would be the poster child for getting away with shit. How's that supposed to aid him in discouraging kids from doing the same reckless bullshit. WoooOOooOOOo, $775 fine, but you get to keep driving. Better not be texting, kids.

What the fuck does a man have to do to get a serious sentence around here? Mow people down in the mall? Be black?

Re:slap on the wrist: (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114801)

Ok, the fines should have maybe been much MUCH higher, that much I definitely agree with. However, I don't see a problem with him being allowed to keep his license given that he has been ordered to carry out community service at locations that are likely outiside any reasonable walking distance from his residence; were he not ordered to perform this community service, I'd say he should lose his license for somewhere between 1 and 5 years, to be determined by a jury who spent enough time in the courtroom with him to be able to base that duration on his demeanor and whether or not he showed any genuine remorse during the trial (e.g. longer if it seems like he'll do it again). I don't think this was a slap on the wrist; it would be unusually unfair (therefore falling under cruel and unusual punishment) to expect him to speak at schools he can't get to (not every school is within range of public transportatio aside from school busses which many districts now also don't have; and he, himself, may live outside the reach of public transportation). Again, the fines should have been much, much higher; unless, of course, he doesn't have tons of money and they want to leave him with enough cash for gas to get to those schools they're ordering him to speak at. I don't know enough about his financial situation to speak as to the appropriateness of the fines.

Re:slap on the wrist: (1)

Faluzeer (583626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114895)

Hmmm

He should have been banned from driving for 5+ years and been given a much larger fine. The community service is absolutely nothing, it is certainly not going to act as any form of deterrent for other morons that drive whilst texting.

Re:slap on the wrist: (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115069)

As I said, a definite revocation of his license in lieu of the community service. However, since he was sentenced to carry out the community service, it would have been inappropriate to revoke his license.

Re:slap on the wrist: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115431)

Take away his license and have the police drive him around some schools? There's value in having him visiting schools, yet not a very good message to send when kids see him get in his car and drive away. It was willful negligence. This guy shouldn't be behind a wheel for a very long time, if ever at all. If the fines are more than he can pay, then he can sell his car and anything else he has. I've several times now almost been knocked down by fuckers using mobile phones when they should have been concentrating. It's idiotic enough to take a call, but the height of utter stupidity to be reading text messages.

Re:slap on the wrist: (1)

Faluzeer (583626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115645)

No, it is inappropriate to not revoke his license. Making his way to the schools on foot or public transport might give him sufficient time to reflect on his actions and the damage he has caused to these peoples lives.

Re:slap on the wrist: (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116205)

No, it's really not inappropriate at all. He's proven that he can't be trusted to handle a motor vehicle, suspend his ass. Don't want his kind on the roads, and maybe having to pay a few bucks for bus fares might teach him a lesson.

I don't see why punishment for committing a crime has to be convenient for the criminal. That's the sort of dumb shit that got him the pathetically low sentence in the first place.

Re:slap on the wrist: (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115347)

However, I don't see a problem with him being allowed to keep his license given that he has been ordered to carry out community service at locations that are likely outiside any reasonable walking distance from his residence

Maybe forcing him to ride a motorbike would be better punishment?

If I were the judge i'd definitely be making inquiries about banning him from holding a phone capable of any form of messaging for 5 years though.

Re:slap on the wrist: (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115405)

I can get on board with either, or both, of those ideas.

Re:slap on the wrist: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115349)

What's with the blood lust?
What's done is done - I'm sure he wishes he could undo it, but he can't - obviously. Do you think a bigger fine, a license suspensions, jail time and who knows what other tar and feathers you can throw at him is going to make him any more or less likely run someone over again? He'll be traumatized forever for costing those people their legs - he's never taking a text message in a car again (as driver or passenger). I don't need the guy sitting in a jail cell to make me happy.

So why is the fine too small? This is the criminal proceedings - fine money goes to the government! The government is not profiting enough from this? Really?!?

To make their civil case easier, the couple needed just a simple guilty verdict. That's done. The civil case is now where the couple gets any money they deserve (and it sounds like it's going to be a lot). Isn't that what you really want slashdot? Justice for the victim? Sounds like everything is being handled sensibly so far. If the couple only gets $750 after the civil case, then I'll happily join you all in your outrage.

Re:slap on the wrist: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40116257)

You assume that he will. Perhaps he will, but it's hardly unusual for these slap on the wrist punishments to fail to make any impact. I remember a couple years ago reading about a rabbi who ran somebody over while driving under the influence, he had previously been to court for a similar offense where somebody was maimed when he hit her and been let off with a slap on the wrist.

Yes, he might learn a lesson, but how precisely do you explain it if he doesn't learn his lesson or to the people who were harmed by his selfishness that they get what's essentially a life term living with their injuries and he gets barely a slap on the wrist.

Re:slap on the wrist: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115745)

As a business, if you call an employee on their mobile phone and you have good reason to believe they may be driving, you can be held liable for any road incidents they are responsible for. UK company law states that they should have a policy in place for this, and that all employees should be aware of it. Here is a PDF summary (sorry, first link I found) http://www.bllaw.co.uk/pdf/Emp_1108_CIS_Use_of_mobile_phones.pdf

Stupid lawsuits (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114519)

Now I hope the "texter" (the girlfriend) sues the piss out of the motorcyclists who tried to sue her, their children, the lawyer, the lawyers children and anyone else remotely involved in this idiotic fucking lawsuit. Nobody should have to be subjected to this kind of punitive, selfish bullshit. I hope she sues them, prevails and owns their sorry asses for all eternity.

Sensible decision from the Judge (3, Interesting)

Faluzeer (583626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114675)

Hmmm

The only person responsible for the accident was the driver of the car. He chose to read the text messages whilst driving. What I cannot understand is the reasoning from the courts as to the decision handed down to the driver of the car. Such a serious accident and he did not even get banned from driving? As a motorcyclist that has to contend with car drivers paying insufficient attention to the road on a daily basis, I have to state that the driver should have been penalised much more severely for his actions.

Re:Sensible decision from the Judge (-1, Troll)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115057)

As a motorcyclist that has to contend with car drivers paying insufficient attention to the road on a daily basis, I have to state that the driver should have been penalised much more severely for his actions.

As a cager that has to contend with motorcyclists paying insufficient attention to the road on a daily basis, I have to state the the driver did us all a service by removing two dangerous hazards from the road.

I pay a great deal of attention to motorcycles when I drive -- though for my own protection. Motorcyclists seem to do incredibly stupid and dangerous things every time they're around me.

Just a few days ago, for example, some moron on a motorcycle decided to pass me on the right (the shoulder, not a different lane) while I was making a right turn on to a busy highway. Had I not expected him to do something incredibly stupid when I saw him behind me, I'd have run right in to him. (What's worse, he shouted some obscenity at me as he drove past, as though it was my fault he was putting his life and my fender unnecessarily at risk.)

Re:Sensible decision from the Judge (1)

Faluzeer (583626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115587)

As a cager that has to contend with motorcyclists paying insufficient attention to the road on a daily basis, I have to state the the driver did us all a service by removing two dangerous hazards from the road.

I pay a great deal of attention to motorcycles when I drive -- though for my own protection. Motorcyclists seem to do incredibly stupid and dangerous things every time they're around me.

Just a few days ago, for example, some moron on a motorcycle decided to pass me on the right (the shoulder, not a different lane) while I was making a right turn on to a busy highway. Had I not expected him to do something incredibly stupid when I saw him behind me, I'd have run right in to him. (What's worse, he shouted some obscenity at me as he drove past, as though it was my fault he was putting his life and my fender unnecessarily at risk.)

I would state that motorcyclists that do not pay sufficient attention to the road do not remain motorcyclists for very long through either through death or serious injury. As for removing 2 dangerous hazards from the road, I have not seen any information that says they contributed to the accident in any way, therefore you appear to be tarring all motorcyclists with the same brush due to past encounters with moronic bikers.

Re:Sensible decision from the Judge (0)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116157)

therefore you appear to be tarring all motorcyclists with the same brush due to past encounters with moronic bikers.

Indeed, I am.

Someday, if I encounter an attentive and responsible motorcyclist, I'll surely regret making that post.

Re:Sensible decision from the Judge (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115065)

As a motorcyclist that has to contend with car drivers paying insufficient attention to the road on a daily basis, I have to state that the driver should have been penalised much more severely for his actions.

I ride motorcycles too, out on the open road though, never in traffic... Punishing the absent minded drivers won't mean a damn thing when you finally win the Darwin award.

Re:Sensible decision from the Judge (2)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115599)

I also ride motorcycles. After reviewing many fatal motorcycle accidents, I"ve come to the conclusion that 99% of them can be avoided by careful riding on the part of the biker... even while sharing the road with brain-dead car drivers.

#1 rule for avoiding fatal accidents is to slow the fuck down while crossing an intersection. In every single fatal accident involving a left-turning car that I've seen, even though technically the car is at fault, the biker was traveling at excessive speed. Most city streets have a speed limit of 35mph. By going 30mph through intersections (only a little bit slower than the posted limit), and by covering the brake lever and being alert for any potential left-turning cars, you can almost completely avoid dying from plowing into a left-turning car. I've crashed into a car at 25mph before and while it was not a pleasant experience, I can't see any possibility of dying from it if wearing a proper helmet. Double so if wearing body armor also.

#2: avoid twisty two-lane canyon roads, and if cannot, go slow and keep to the right side of the lane. Disproportionately large number of accidents happen on these roads. Some because squids think they're Rossi and crash by themselves, and some because of oncoming cars crossing the center line. By simply not going to these type of roads, you reduce your chance of dying by several orders of magnitude.

I personally will be violating this rule because I ride sportbikes, but if you ride Harleys or Goldwings you can do this.

#3 Not only know the proper technique, but drill and practice until it becomes second nature. Mostly I'm talking about knowing how to steer quickly (countersteering is the only possible method) and looking where you want to go, not where you're going to crash. This is common knowledge and many if not most people know this, but it's not second nature!

I've been watching rnickeymouse youtube videos and some of the guys crashing are actually quite good, they're dragging their knees in corners and their head is turned way to the inside, looking at the corner exit (as is proper). However, something unexpected happens, such as rear end sliding or footpeg dragging, and it throws them off. Even after they recover from the little mishap, now their attention is all shot to hell and they target-fixate and run off into the dirt and crash. So even though they *know* about countersteering and looking where you want to go, it hasn't become second nature to them.

#4 get ABS.

"Only in America" (0)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114755)

Not a lot else to say really.

Not an "accident" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114953)

Willful stupidity is not an accident.

next time.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114979)

sue the fucking driver, you gold-digging idiots.. and get a different lawyer -- yours is as stupid as the whole lot of you -- filing suit against the non-present girlfriend instead of the driver, which you can do here ya know, seeing how the 775 + community service was the *criminal* penalty (not civil). remember OJ? he got off in *criminal* court but lost his shorts in *civil* court (tfa makes no mention of civil action against the driver .. but if there was any.. you'd think it would be mentioned.. unless the journalist and editors are also fucking morons too)

There should be a price (4, Interesting)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115013)

If you get found guilty of filing a frivolous lawsuit... you should be punched in the face.

I'm not going to bother levying a fine. These idiots are litigious jerks and probably are broke anyway. Why bother with that. Just have the bailiff pop him in the face.

Barbaric you say? Not at all. Barbaric would be one person randomly coming up to another person on the street and doing it. The difference between kidnapping someone for ten years and prison is the court system.

So if the court determines you filed a frivilious lawsuit... one solid pop to the face. Nothing more or less. You want to file another suit? Go for it.

I have no idea if this would cut down on bullshit lawsuits but I'd like to experiment with it.

What about corporations? That's a little more complicated. I don't want to just punch the lawyer in the face because for all we know he's just some young legal grad they hired to be a punching bag. I'd probably go with the head of their legal department or possibly their CEO. God knows Steve Jobs should have been punched in the face a few times went he decided to touch off this patent Armageddon.

Possibly a stupid idea... but it would make judge judy more interesting to watch. Can you just picture this in a tv court show? That would be delicious.

Re:There should be a price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115473)

Really? The two victims of his negligence, who now have amputated limbs, should be punched in the face? While I agree that the suit should have failed, I think you have a rather warped understanding of the mental and emotional state of somebody who has been so gravely injured by another person's idiocy. He got a $775 fine, they lost their LEGS, and they are making decisions on that basis. Step back and get a little perspective before suggesting that they should get "one solid pop to the face."

Re:There should be a price (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116255)

Yep. I don't care. Old women. Children. Who ever wants to do it. You file a bs lawsuit and the court determines it to be frivolous by the legal strictures of the court... Immediate punch to the face.

If the person has some sort of head injury we can give them a court ordered punch to the gut or possibly a really wicked indian burn.

Possibly really really spicy indian food that they are forced by law to eat.... you know the stuff that makes you feel like you're crapping acid for at least two days?

Or maybe hydrogen peroxide applied to their hair for so long it almost falls out?... I don't want to really hurt them. It just needs to be painful, humiliating, and ideally it should cause jackasses to not feel so blithe about filing dozens of bs lawsuits concurrently.

That would only be allowed in extreme medical cases. Otherwise, straight punch to the face. Not a big haymaker. I don't want to give the guy a concussion. Just a solid good morning punch to the face.

I just imagine one of these idiots getting popped in the face twice in the day by the bailiff... it makes the situation less annoying.

Google! Please save us! (0)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115023)

When Google finally perfects its robotic driving system, hopefully it will become mandatory for all cars and trucks in the U.S, and us motorcyclists can rejoice!

No more texting drivers like from TFA. No more drunk drivers. No more brain-dead drivers who turn left right in front of you in broad daylight, even though you have headlights on high beam and even partially blind people can see you.

Re:Google! Please save us! (1)

jsh1972 (1095519) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115563)

... so then you will just get sued for failing to keep the car's AV definitions up to date? Or for rooting your car to get rid of the carrier bloatware (car will still an internet connection, after all... subsidized cars on a two year contract, anyone?) so the turn by turn navigation won't drive you ten miles out of your way in order to pass in front of an olive garden that has a targeted ad pushed to you?

Re:Google! Please save us! (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115957)

so then you will just get sued for failing to keep the car's AV definitions up to date?

That would be Google's job, not yours. And why would the car need AV at all? It's not gonna be running Windows and it will be an embedded system.

Or for rooting your car to get rid of the carrier bloatware (car will still an internet connection, after all... subsidized cars on a two year contract, anyone?) so the turn by turn navigation won't drive you ten miles out of your way in order to pass in front of an olive garden that has a targeted ad pushed to you?

If the system has been perfected, this would not be an issue. There would be no carrier. Why would anyone in their right mind consider relying on internet connection for safety? The car would be completely autonomous with no need for the internet. Maybe a map upgrade once in a while only, which can be done via wifi overnight.

Re:Google! Please save us! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40116311)

You just answered your own question. AV would be required because you're connecting the computer to the internet. Personally, I think this is a good excuse to have signed updates that are only allowed to come from the manufacturer.

Duh... (0)

SirBitBucket (1292924) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115681)

Well, Duh...
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