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Don’t Watch|Where You’re Going

Lawyers may soon become a major road hazard.

The ABA Journal this month, in an article titled "Smartwatches and other wearables can enhance the practice of law, attorneys say," reported on a session at the ABA Techshow where a speaker recommended using smartwatches - "especially in court or behind the wheel."

Exactly one business day later (there was a weekend involved), a "complaint for nuisance caused by smartphone and smartwatch usage while driving" was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of something called Coalition Against Distracted Driving.

Defendants in the suit include Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft - the giants of the distraction industry.

The suit asks for at least $1 billion annually for a national public education campaign that I'm really hoping won't be on freeway billboards or in text messages.

I can hear you scoffing at this even while I'm writing this sentence, but stop for a moment and consider the facts. Distractions do indeed lead to accidents. Is it not reasonably foreseeable, as they say in law school, that if you place a device that demands attention, crashes will occur?

These companies are well aware of this danger but continue to push their deadly products on impressionable youths who want to look cool - or whatever the cool term for cool is these days. (Boss? Snazzy? Dope? Sexually attractive? I suspect I'm not cool since I don't know this.)

The real problem with this lawsuit is that it doesn't go far enough. There are lots of other distractions causing accidents.

Why are there not stiff fines for scantily clad persons walking near roads?

Should we not be educated about the risks of driving while consuming catsup-laden sandwiches and hot coffee?

And what about that dog that's barfing in the back seat?

We need to learn about all of these things so that we can sue everyone possible.

I recommend starting with a class action against all the major car manufacturers.

It's reasonably foreseeable there will be many traffic accidents if you sell people cars.

By the way, distraction is not the only problem. Many years ago, I vividly remember reporting on a lawsuit against the California Department of Transportation for not making a freeway interesting enough.

The plaintiff driver was so bored he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed.

At the time, I recommended cartoons on billboards to solve this problem but I can see how that might be a little too interesting. You've got to strike a very delicate balance between boredom and fascination to achieve the laserlike focus required for safe driving.

So I'm revising my recommendations. One answer, obviously, is a carefully controlled, intravenous caffeine drip.

With frequent bathroom stops.

But the best solution is to turn driving into a video game. Distraction should be put to good use.

Auto windshields must be outfitted with virtual reality augmentation that features a soundtrack and transforms other vehicles and road obstacles into dragons, orcs and potential bad dates (depending on driver preference).

Drivers making it home successfully will be rewarded with wardrobe upgrades.

Or maybe a jewel-encrusted magical sword.

A cure for loneliness? Filing lawsuits, of course, is a good way to get out of the house and interact with people

I have no idea what the Coalition Against Distracted Driving is but I suspect there aren't a whole lot of members aside from the lawyer who filed the suit who also happens to be the other named plaintiff.

This might explain the following from page 3 of the lawsuit: "Plaintiff CADD invites the U.S. government, the state of California, California counties and cities, the California State Association of Counties, the League of California Cities, and other states to apply to join CADD."

Just because you're a government doesn't mean you get in without going through the application process. This group has standards.

Celebrity notes. A couple of interesting notes from celebrity litigation last week.

First there was this from a complaint against a rapper named Jayceon Taylor, aka The Game, who allegedly attacked a couple of process servers and took a video camera from one of them:

"Following the attack, Defendant ... ran up the driveway, got inside of his black and silver Rolls Royce Phantom vehicle and fled the residence to go perform at the Coachella Music Festival."

Now that's a true professional gangsta rapper.

And then there was a small-claims filing seeking $5,000 from actress Mila Kunis for "Therapy due to isolation for the loss of her chicken pet 'Doggie' which Defendant stole from Plaintiff back in Ukraine."

No word on Doggie's current condition or whereabouts but you've got to expect fowl play.


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