Google Directs Pedestrian To A Busy Highway And Is Now Being Sued For $100,000

June 7, 2010

In Blighty we used to laugh at Americans who would try and sue companies to compensate for injuries sustained, due to their lack of common sense. It tickled us to hear stories like the woman who put a hot cup of coffee on her lap while sitting in a car. She burned herself when it spilled and subsequently sued McDonalds because they didn’t put a warning sign on the cup saying something like “caution. Coffee is hot.” We laugh no more, as this country is catching up fast with a bombardment of adverts from criminal injury firms, encouraging us to sue for things that we used to accept as bad luck, personal negligence, or part of life’s rocky road.

However, all is not lost. There are still plenty of gratuitous lawsuits to keep us entertained. Here’s one for you: A young woman called Lauren Rosenberg is suing Google for $100,000 dollars, or £68,000 for supplying unsafe directions in its map tool after she was hit by a car in January. She used the tool on her Blackberry to get directions between 96 Daly Street, Park City and 1710 Prospector Avenue, Park City in Utah. She went and crossed the lovely sounding Deer Park, which is actually the Utah State Route 224, which has no pavement. And she did this at night. Needless to say, her next move was towards the hospital. The lawsuit was filed in a Utah District Court accusing Google of being “careless, reckless, and negligent” in supplying these unsafe directions. The driver who hit her is also being sued. Her lawyer Allen Young said this:

“We think there’s enough fault to go around, but Google had some responsibility to direct people correctly or warn them. They created a trap with walking instructions that people rely on. She relied on it and thought she should cross the street.”

Maybe I’m a bit thick, but what responsibility does Google have to this woman who doesn’t use the brain she’s lucky to have working for her and tries to cross a busy highway at night? Look at that road. What part of these pictures would make you think you could just hop across, or walk alongside in safety?

Deer Drive, a state route in Utah, America

Another angle of the Google map view of Deer Drive, a state route in Utah, America.

This map tool is in beta and apparently does give warnings about unsafe crossings, according to searchengineland. Besides, anyone who has used a sat nav in their car knows very well that at times it either takes you to strange places, or takes you the long way round to your destination. It’s an old fashioned concept I know, but a paper map is usually reliable, as is your common sense. If you choose to use it.



  1. It’s up to the courts to decide if Google was careless, reckless, and negligent providing of unsafe directions. I’m real tired of the so-called “courts of public opinion” that create such biased environment that taxpayers have to pay the expenses for a change in venue in order to move cases to jurisdictions where a fair trial can be conducted.

    As a paralegal who has served as a Commissioner of Oaths, a Clerk of the Court and as a Justice of the Peace in the Canadian court system I can say without hesitation that my experience is that the vast and overwhelming number of members of the public who espouse opinions have zero, zip, nada to base their so-called opinions on. An opinion that’s not based on facts and a clear knowledge of the law is nothing but hot air.

    • Hello, Timethief. Thanks for popping in again. I like your new avatar.

      I also thank you for your comment. I know you’re a paralegal because you’ve mentioned it previously on the WP forums. It may be an opinion of hot air, but it’s still my opinion and I put it out there for people to respond to. I may receive similar thoughts, or other, very different ones like yours and I endeavour to respond to them the best way I can. I’m happy you pitched in with your opinion of this post, coming from extensive knowledge and experience of the law. I’m glad you were able to put another side to this topic and it’ll certainly give the readers of these comments something to think about, including me. Thanks once again.

  2. I blogged about this the other day. My thoughts, if this woman wins, I’ll be walking a lot more with a Google map in my hand 🙂

  3. I will never get how you sew in such a case. Seriously. Unless google explicitely says that they would tell me something is unsafe, I would think I would have to decide that for myself. Same as using a paper map. Or well – usually I actually like my hot chocolate, well, hot? Huh.

    • Well we would think like that, but in legal terms I think it’s rather different. If you haven’t done so already, read Timethief’s response to this post.

      • I’ve read it, yes. And she makes a very good point. But my comment – and I believe your post – is not about that you can’t go to court in those cases, it’s (at least in my case) that you shouldn’t. You are responsible for your own life and shitty things happen, especially not if you’re not thinking for yourself but are of the firm belief that google and mcdonalds and the world should do the thinking for you. *shrugs*

        • You explained it much better than I did – and I wrote this post!

          • Thanks! Of course, I had the advantage of first reading your post and taking that as my stepping stone. Heh.

  4. Re: the McDonald’s coffee case, there’s a pretty good overview of that case here – http://www.slip-and-sue.com/the-famous-infamous-mcdonalds-coffee-spill-lawsuit-revisited/
    And here’s the wiki article on it – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald's_Restaurants

    • Thanks for these. I’ll have a look at them pronto.

      • I’ve just had a look at those articles you linked here. That case was bigger than I thought. It was not trivial at all.

        I maintain that putting a hot drink in your lap is not at all clever, but the events that followed were outrageous. Thanks for putting me straight on this one, Anthony. Much appreciated.

  5. There were probably lots of deers in Deer Valley but they all probably took bad advice from Google and were all wiped out by careless drivers.

  6. I feel like I have a good case against Google too. I need to know your thoughts. So I was meeting a date from Match.com, and from his pictures online, he sure seemed fantastic. In reality no doubt he was 4’11 with nub teeth. But that’s not the point. The point is that I google mapped how to get to the restaurant and it got me totally lost. When I finally got to the restaurant, my date was nowhere to be found. Can I sue for this?

    • No.

      • But let’s look on the plus side. It’s possible that Google saved you from a date in Hades and at least it didn’t lead you to a busy highway – or did it?

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