In a frivolous lawsuit that ranks right up there with people suing McDonald's for burning themselves drinking hot coffee, a woman is suing Google because she claims Google Maps directions led her to a highway, where she was struck by a car.
One day last January, Los Angeles native Lauren Rosenberg was trying to get from 96 Daly Street to 1710 Prospector Avenue in Park City, Utah.
To finder her way, Rosenberg looked up the walking directions using Google Maps on her RIM BlackBerry smartphone. Here is what that query looks like in Google Maps from the desktop:
Note the red arrow pointing to Deer Valley Drive, aka Utah State Route 224. That's the busy highway where Rosenberg was struck by driver Patrick Harwood, who along with Google is named in the lawsuit.
No sidewalks or biking tracks of any kind on Deer Valley Drive. Please note that Google Maps walking directions are in beta and that Google provides the disclaimer I circled above: "Use caution - This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths."
That disclaimer is also provided in Google Maps for BlackBerry, which is the app the woman used to find her way before she was nailed by the car.
Harwood is suing Google and Harwood to cover her $100,000 in medical expenses ($100,000), as well as punitive damages. In her May 27 complaint, Harwood's attorneys state:
"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, causing her to suffer severe permanent physical, emotional, and mental injuries, including pain and suffering."
What do you think? Google put in a disclaimer for its beta product. I could see how Rosenberg would have a suit against Harwood's insurance company, and perhaps against Harwood if he was driving too fast, but sue Google over this? Nonsense.
That's just another example of how lawyers like to wring money out of big corporations where they can. If Rosenberg prevails, there will be a huge line for the millions of people who used Google Maps, were steered wrong and had a bad day.
That's a dangerous precedent not only for Google but for any Web company trying to provide a free service to help adults find their way.
Read the full complaint, filed in the central district of Utah's District Court, here:
Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan brought the story to bear here late last week.
He points out that neither Google nor Microsoft Bing, which provided similar directions, should point pedestrians to walk along busy highways, but maybe this woman should be sued for lacking the common sense to not walk there.