A North Carolina man’s family filed a lawsuit against Google on Tuesday, claiming the company was grossly negligent in allowing its Maps application to direct the man to drive off a collapsed bridge where he plunged to his death. Philip Paxson, a 47-year-old father of two was driving home from his daughter’s ninth birthday on Sept. 30, 2022, when Google Maps allegedly suggested he drive his Jeep Gladiator across a bridge that collapsed in 2013.
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“He was following his GPS which led him down a concrete road to a bridge that dropped off into a river,” Paxson’s mother-in-law wrote on Facebook at the time. She continued: “The bridge had been destroyed 9 years ago and never repaired,” adding that the bridge also didn’t have any “barriers or warning signs to prevent the death of a 47-year-old father of two daughters.”
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Paxson’s widow, Alicia, claims “directions from Google Maps misguided [her husband] to his death” and occurred shortly after the family moved to Hickory, North Carolina from Florida, Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky, the law firm representing the family, said in a press release.
The state troopers who responded to the scene and discovered Paxson’s body in Snow Creek said in the filing that there weren’t any barriers or road signs warning of the collapsed bridge, ABC News reported. They reported that Paxson had driven off the unguarded edge of the bridge, crashing roughly 20 feet below.
“Our girls ask how and why their daddy died, and I’m at a loss for words they can 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,” his wife, Alicia Paxson, said in the press release.
The complaint argues that Google didn’t provide timely updates to Maps, allegedly resulting in Paxson’s death.
“We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family,” José Castañeda, a Google Spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Gizmodo. “Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit,” he added.
The lawsuit also names two other defendants Tarde, LLC, James Tarlton, and Hinckley Gauvain, LLC who were identified as the owners of the neglected collapsed bridge.
“For years before this tragedy, Hickory residents asked for the road to be fixed or properly barricaded before someone was hurt or killed,” attorney Robert Zimmerman said in the press release. “Their demands went unanswered. We’ve discovered that Google Maps misdirected motorists like Mr. Paxson onto this collapsed road for years, despite receiving complaints from the public demanding that Google fix its map and directions to mark the road as CLOSED.”
He added: “Philip’s widow Alicia is adamant we do everything possible to obtain justice and make sure something like this tragic nightmare cannot happen to another family.”
Attorneys for Alicia Paxson did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
…. to be continued
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