Google is being sued by the family of a man who drove off a collapsed bridge while following Google Maps.
The family of Philip Paxson are accusing the tech giant of negligence, claiming they had been informed the bridge had been collapsed for five years but failed to update their navigation system.
The medical device salesman and father of two, drowned in September last year after his Jeep Gladiator plunged into Snow Creek in Hickory, North Carolina according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday.
He was driving home from his daughter’s ninth birthday party through an unfamiliar neighbourhood when Google Maps allegedly directed him to cross the collapsed bridge.
“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.
Police who found Paxton’s body in his overturned and partially submerged truck said there were no barriers or warning signs along the washed-out roadway.
He had driven off an unguarded edge and crashed about 20 feet below, according to the lawsuit.
The North Carolina State Patrol had said the bridge was not maintained by local or state officials, and the original developer’s company had dissolved.
The lawsuit names several private property management companies that it claims are responsible for the bridge and the adjoining land.
Multiple people had notified Google Maps about the collapse in the years leading up to Paxson’s death and had urged the company to update its route information, according to the lawsuit.
The court filing includes email records from another Hickory resident who had used the map’s “suggest an edit” feature in September 2020 to alert the company that it was directing drivers over the collapsed bridge.
A November 2020 email confirmation from Google confirms the company received her report and was reviewing the suggested change, but the lawsuit claims Google took no further action.
“We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family,” Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda told The Associated Press.
“Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit.”