If you have needed directions to anywhere, wanted to see how long it would take you, or going to a new country and needed directions what is the one thing you have always turned to? Google maps. Google maps “launched in the US on 8 February 2005 and in the UK two months later” with 154.4 million users in 2018 and the numbers increasing each year, it is not hard to say that Google has once again created a staple piece of today's technology.
What happens when that all goes wrong? In January of 2021 Lauren Rosenberg, a resident of Los Angeles, USA sued Google Inc. for $100,000 when she claimed she was hit by a motorcyclist when the maps app leads her off a pedestrian road. According to the lawsuit, "Google Maps led her to walk on a busy road without sidewalks that were not reasonably safe for pedestrians." It is also stated that "As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Google's careless, reckless and negligent providing of unsafe directions, plaintiff Lauren Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle."
As compensation for her quote on quote ‘injuries’ Rosenberg was seeking both a compensation fee and to be paid for punitive damages as well. However, the injuries were never specified within the lawsuit but the motorcyclist's name was mentioned.
In addition to suing Google for the app ‘guiding’ her the wrong way, causing the incident, she also sued the driver of the motorcycle. Fortunately for the tech giant, the Utah District Court ruled for googles motion to dismiss but ruled against googles motion to keep this case disclosed from the public as googled argued it was their right, referring to the first amendment right as well as dismissed their “claims under traditional negligence standards.”
To be able to reach a negligence claim, “a person (the negligent party) [needs to] breach [a] duty of care responsibilities toward another person (the claimant), resulting in an injury or damage”. As the court was able to show that Google in fact did not owe Rosenberg a duty, there was no negligence case to be heard. To prove this, the court conducted a four-factor test.
The court had also stated that "it is clear that Google was not required to anticipate that a user of the Google Maps service would cross the road without looking for cars . . . and that, absent negligence on the user’s part, an injury while crossing the road would be unlikely." This means that it is not wrong for google to assume that their users should know how to look at both the map and be aware of their surroundings, therefore there is no case for negligence in terms of google as it was Rosenberg’s own fault for not looking at the road. If one were to place this in a metaphor it would be as if a chef sued the restaurant for them cutting their finger, or a customer suing Starbucks because the drink was too hot (which has happened).
Rosenberg, also claimed that google should need to place different disclaimers on their app such as “a statement that included a warning of dangers of which Google knows or should know along a potential route,” telling people they should be careful. The court disagreed and stated that this is an unnecessary burden for the company to bear and the people who should be using the app should be spacially aware similar to when those who use rearview cameras in a car to know that they should not solely rely on the camera.
Cases such as these, also known as frivolous lawsuits have been extremely prevalent within today's society, especially within the corporate world with customers suing large corporations in hopes to make a quick dollar. Famous cases like Rosenberg v. Google, Liebeck v. McDonald's, and many more make individuals question whether or not the legal system is there to protect these individuals or to make large corporations more susceptible to claims that may diminish their corporation.