Oakdale couple loses suit to force phone makers to disable devices in cars

In 2013, David Riggs was on his scooter near his Oakdale home when he was struck and killed by a driver on Helmo Avenue who was his sending his third text in a little over three blocks.

Like many families, Peggy and Craig Riggs have gone public with their grief, hoping to reach people who are reluctant to give up their “freedom” to drive distracted. The anecdotal evidence suggests it’s like shoveling sand against the tide.

In 2015, Peggy Riggs testified at the Capitol, urging lawmakers to increase penalties for texting and driving.

“While I cannot adequately explain to you the hole this senseless tragedy has left in our family, I can tell you that on most days, it’s unbearable, especially because, my husband and I and our sons, Matthew and Michael, should be making plans to attend David’s graduation from UMD this May. Instead, we plan to spend that day at David’s gravesite,” she said.

A bill this session at the Legislature to ban the use of hand-held devices while driving is considered dead.

So they tried another route. They sued Apple — the driver who killed their son was on an iPhone — for not including technology that would disable the phone when people are driving.

The teenager who killed their son was convicted of a misdemeanor.

“Don’t put another family through this tragedy,” Craig Riggs told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We (wake) up every day missing our son. He’s got two brothers and has a niece now he is never going to see.”

The latest effort apparently isn’t going to work either.

Yesterday, a judge in California tentatively dismissed the suit, the Chronicle reports.

“The Court concludes there is not a sufficiently ‘close’ connection between Apple’s conduct and Plaintiffs’ injuries to warrant the imposition of a legal duty,” Judge Theodore Zayner wrote.

Apple has the technology to do what Riggs thinks they should do. And the company acknowledges that law enforcement isn’t going to curb the problem. But it refused the Chronicle’s request to explain why it hasn’t installed the technology on its phones.

Presumably, there’s an argument to be made that passengers wouldn’t be able to use their phones while someone else is driving. A fair point, and one that could be addressed with two words: too bad.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies across Minnesota are continuing their “stepped up” enforcement of distracted driving and, as with previous enforcements, the tweets from the Department of Public Safety and the State Patrol are disturbing and discouraging.

They also show that perhaps the stepped-up enforcement should be a constant.

In one case, a woman was stopped and given a ticket, and then stopped a half hour later, trying to pay the ticket online.

Here. Make sense of any of this if you can.

Count the transgressions in this one: