Judge denies that "electronic presence" via texting is enough to hold woman accountable for motor vehicle accident
A woman who repeatedly texted her boyfriend, while she knew he was driving, and who ultimately crossed traffic and crashed into motorcyclists, cannot be added to a civil lawsuit according to a Superior Court judge in Morristown, New Jersey.
The plaintiffs' lawyer argued that the girlfriend's conduct contributed to the accident that cost his clients their legs. The woman's lawyer argued that while she sent the messages, it was ultimately her boyfriend's responsibility to control when he looked at them and when he responded to them.
The boyfriend plead guilty to three violations of the motor vehicle code, including driving while using a mobile device. He's now being sued in civil court.
Skippy Weinstein, the Kuberts' lawyer, argues Colonna was "electronically present" in the crash. He says she should have known Best was driving home as they exchanged text messages leading up to the crash. She says she "may have known" he was driving.
"What I find interesting was her testimony at depositions was that she answered by saying, 'This is what teenagers do,'" Weinstein said.
The judge disagreed. This time. But the term "electronically present" is going to be something interesting to watch in the coming years.
Can you be "electronically present" at an accident? At a robbery? At a homicide? During civil disobedience? As a witness?
We've often discussed how our devices know who we are, where we are, and often what we're doing. They allow us to communicate almost instantly from across the room or halfway around the world. You can text significant others, FaceTime grandparents, Skype colleagues.
How soon will it be before that technology becomes par for the course in civil and criminal matters?
This week, in New Jersey, a judged ruled a woman couldn't be sued for texting her boyfriend while she new he was driving, and when he ultimately drove his truck into two motorcyclists, What about in the months and years ahead? How long until the law and technology becomes such that "electronically present" is held as the equivalent to "physically present"?
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