The Paxson family of North Carolina has filed a lawsuit against Google, alleging negligence that resulted in the untimely death of Philip Paxson. This heart-wrenching case highlights the responsibility of tech giants like Google when it comes to the accuracy of their mapping services and the devastating consequences that can arise from outdated or incorrect information.

On the night of September 30, 2022, Philip Paxson, a 47-year-old medical device salesman, was returning home from his daughter’s camping-themed ninth birthday party in Hickory, North Carolina. The weather was inclement, with rain making the roads treacherous. Philip, navigating unfamiliar routes, was relying on Google Maps for directions.

He followed the directions provided by Google Maps. He ended up driving off a collapsed bridge, plunging into a creek where he lost his life by drowning. The lawsuit, filed in Wake County Superior Court, squarely places the blame on Google, asserting that their failure to update their maps led directly to this fatal incident.

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Who was Philip Paxson?

Paxson, a U.S. Navy veteran, as described in the suit, left behind two daughters, ages 7 and 9, and his wife, Alicia Paxson.

Philip Paxson’s wife, Alicia Paxson, who had driven their two daughters home separately, spoke of the overwhelming grief that has engulfed their family. She lamented how easily this tragedy could have been prevented, given that concerned individuals had previously alerted Google to the perilous nature of the suggested route. She recounted searching her husband’s phone after the accident and discovering that he had used Google Maps for directions.

Google responded to the lawsuit with a statement expressing sympathy for the Paxson family. A spokesperson, José Castañeda, emphasized that their goal is to provide accurate routing information through Google Maps and stated that they are reviewing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit reveals that Google Maps had been directing drivers to cross the collapsed bridge since 2013, despite receiving a complaint from a Hickory resident in November 2020. The lawsuit’s argument revolves around the belief that Google should have promptly rectified the situation by updating its maps and removing this dangerous route recommendation.

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Apart from Google, the lawsuit also implicates two businesses, Hinckley Gauvain L.L.C. and Tarde L.L.C., along with an individual named James Tarlton, who were allegedly responsible for maintaining the bridge. Their failure to address the bridge’s hazardous state by not installing barricades, warning signs, or adequate lighting forms a critical part of the lawsuit.