Family sues Google alleging its Maps app led father to drive off collapsed bridge to his death, attorneys say

According to the lawsuit, Google has been sued by the family of a North Carolina man who claims the company’s Maps application last year caused him to drive off a collapsed bridge and fall about 20 feet to his death.

According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Philip Paxson was driving home late at night in September 2022 from his daughter’s 9th birthday party when the navigation system directed him to go over an unmarked and unbarricaded bridge that had collapsed years before.

According to the lawsuit, Paxson drove off the unbarricaded edge of the bridge in Hickory, North Carolina, and drowned.

According to the lawsuit, neighbors were concerned that Google Maps had led drivers over the bridge, which had not been repaired since its partial collapse in 2013.

“For years prior to this tragedy, Hickory residents requested that the road be repaired or properly barricaded before anyone was injured or killed.” “Their demands were ignored,” said Paxson family attorney Robert Zimmerman in a statement. “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.”

Despite residents informing Google Maps of the dangerous bridge, the application continued to guide drivers over it, according to the suit, which includes a report made to Google Maps by a woman asking it to update its navigation system; CNN cannot verify the veracity of the exhibit.

“You are not capable of crossing this road.” “GPS sends people down here, which is especially dangerous for emergency vehicles,” according to the Google Maps report. “Please update this map so that GPS coordinates are accurate.”

According to the court filing, the woman received an email autoreply from Google Maps thanking her for the report: “Your suggestion is being reviewed.” Thank you for sharing your expertise. “We’ll notify you once the changes are published,” it says.

In addition to Google, the family is suing Alphabet and two local companies, alleging that they were responsible for maintaining the land and bridge, as well as proper barricades and warning signs, and failed to repair the bridge or put up barricades and hazard warnings. The lawsuit accuses the companies of negligence, willful and wanton behavior, and seeks unspecified punitive damages.

Google expressed its “deepest sympathies to the Paxson family” in a statement to CNN. “Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in maps, and we are currently reviewing this lawsuit.” CNN has reached out to codefendants Tarde, LLC and Hinckley Gauvain, LLC for comment.

According to the suit, Paxson is survived by his wife, Alicia, and the couple’s two daughters, ages 9 and 7. The family wants to “make sure our voices are heard,” Alicia Paxson said in a statement released by her attorneys.

“This was my daughters’ first Father’s Day without their father. They should have celebrated and spent time with Philip, who had dedicated his life to his family. Instead, they had to look across the table at an empty chair,” the wife explained.

“Our girls want to know how and why their daddy died, and I’m at a loss for words because, as an adult, I still don’t understand how those in charge of the GPS directions and the bridge could have acted with such disregard for human life,” Paxson said.

“No one should ever have to lose a loved one in this way.”

“Like so many motorists, Philip put his trust in Google Maps to safely guide him home from the children’s birthday party,” family attorney Larry Bendesky said in a statement. “His trust in Google Maps, combined with the failure of the road and bridge-keepers to do their jobs, cost him his life.”

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