Philip Paxson’s family are suing the company over his death, alleging that Google negligently failed to show the bridge had fallen nine years earlier.

Mr Paxson died in September 2022 after attempting to drive over the damaged bridge in Hickory, North Carolina.

A spokesperson for Google said the company was reviewing the allegations.

The case was filed in civil court in Wake County on Tuesday.

Mr Paxson, a father of two, was driving home from his daughter’s ninth birthday party at a friend’s house and was in an unfamiliar neighbourhood at the time of his death, according to the family’s lawsuit.

His wife had driven his two daughters home earlier, and he stayed behind to help clean up.

“Unfamiliar with local roads, he relied on Google Maps, expecting it would safely direct him home to his wife and daughters,” lawyers for the family said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

“Tragically, as he drove cautiously in the darkness and rain, he unsuspectingly followed Google’s outdated directions to what his family later learned for nearly a decade was called the ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ crashing into Snow Creek, where he drowned.”

Local residents had repeatedly contacted Google to have them change their online maps after the bridge collapsed in 2013, the suit claims.

  • Fester@lemm.ee
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    123
    arrow-down
    2
    ·
    10 months ago

    Local residents had repeatedly contacted Google to have them change their online maps after the bridge collapsed in 2013, the suit claims.

    Barriers that were normally placed across the bridge entrance were missing due to vandalism, according to the Charlotte Observer.

    The lawsuit is also suing three local companies, arguing they had a duty to maintain the bridge.

    That’s a lot of fucking negligence.

    • MooseBoys@lemmy.world
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      54
      ·
      10 months ago

      Barriers that were normally placed across the bridge entrance were missing due to vandalism

      vandalism? What were these “barriers”, a handful of orange cones? At minimum they should have put some concrete jersey barriers there.

      • owf@feddit.de
        link
        fedilink
        arrow-up
        3
        ·
        10 months ago

        Really. It’s a collapsed death bridge, FFS.

        These “vandals” should have needed industrial machinery to remove the barriers that should have been there.

    • Otter@lemmy.ca
      link
      fedilink
      English
      arrow-up
      49
      arrow-down
      1
      ·
      edit-2
      10 months ago

      I came here thinking it recently collapsed and Google Maps just never updated.

      It collapsed a decade ago, and both Google Maps and local maintainers organizations (whoever maintains the roads) dropped the ball. You’d think someone would have built a wall blocking that road off by now

        • Otter@lemmy.ca
          link
          fedilink
          English
          arrow-up
          12
          ·
          edit-2
          10 months ago

          Ah sorry, I meant people locally that maintain the roads/signs/barriers. I’ll fix it to be more clear

          I agree with your comment though

        • ricecake@sh.itjust.works
          link
          fedilink
          arrow-up
          1
          ·
          10 months ago

          I mean, the county and local authorities are supposed to keep the official maps of where the roads are up to date. That’s actually one of the responsibilities of local government.

          Google isn’t going out and mapping all these roads, they’re 99% just aggregating the data from all the different jurisdictions and making sure they play nice with each other.

    • 30p87@feddit.de
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      12
      arrow-down
      4
      ·
      10 months ago

      Google is not at fault here, not at all. If at all, Google is just responsible for a not fully up to date product, which could enrage consumers at worst. If that guy literally couldn’t see the road he also was unable to stop for an animal or even human.
      It’s not Google’s responsibility to drive responsible for their users; drivers need to do so safely with or without help from maps of any kind.
      If the false information had caused an emergency vehicle to be misguided which led to the death of the patient I would agree that Google is at some fault.

      Other than that, the companies responsible for caring about the bridge should be at fault here somewhat too, even though it’s not their responsibility to - again - ensure a driver can stop in time at their current speed and the given weather conditions. Yet they should mark a road as dead end and block the road as done at eg. natural cliffs where roads are ending, with proper material, so blocks of concrete stopping even tanks.

      • NaN@lemmy.sdf.org
        link
        fedilink
        English
        arrow-up
        12
        ·
        edit-2
        10 months ago

        It is not uncommon to go over 20 at night, even in the rain.

        This accident could have easily happened without a GPS, because it is a very bad location and has no warnings, however without a GPS it is also unlikely he would have found himself in this area, and it did lead him directly to a road that it had been told was not passable. They do not have a large part of the liability, but they should have a responsibility to warn their users when people have told them about an extreme safety hazard for ten years.

        • biddy@feddit.nl
          link
          fedilink
          arrow-up
          1
          arrow-down
          1
          ·
          10 months ago

          It’s not uncommon to speed, drink drive, etc, that doesn’t mean those things are right. There’s all sorts of obstacles that might end up on a regular road that you should be able to stop for. Fallen rocks, fallen trees, pedestrians, cyclists, parked cars, traffic tailbacks.

          And remember, the bridge did have warnings, which happened to be removed by vandals. That’s not the city’s fault.

    • jcit878@lemmy.world
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      3
      arrow-down
      23
      ·
      10 months ago

      sounds like a bunch of sue happy fuckwits tbh. sounds like the bridge owners problem. using a scattergun of lawsuits makes them look like greedy cunts

  • sadbehr@lemmy.nz
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    67
    arrow-down
    3
    ·
    10 months ago

    After looking at the picture of the bridge in the article, it looks like it should have either been fixed or blocked by a large only moveable by heavy machinery barrier of some description.

    What if someone was using a 15 year old paper map? Would they get to sue the cartographer?
    What if the bridge had collapsed yesterday? Last week? As much as I don’t like Google, I don’t think they’re at fault here.

    • NaN@lemmy.sdf.org
      link
      fedilink
      English
      arrow-up
      20
      arrow-down
      3
      ·
      10 months ago

      A 15 year old paper map doesn’t have the ability to immediately update itself. I don’t think anybody things Google is primarily at fault, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored that they were informed of the dangerous issue numerous times, have the ability to correct it and routinely do so, and ignored the issue in this location which contributed to this death.

    • Mr_Dr_Oink@lemmy.world
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      10
      arrow-down
      2
      ·
      10 months ago

      It says that the residents had repeatedly requested that google update their maps to reflect that the bridge is gone. Not googles fault but they have ignored/missed multiple requests to update their maps so they hold some blame here when you consider that people rely on these types of navigation and google explicitly make google maps to provide help in navigation. I dont think theres nothing there.

      It also says the lawsuit includes the suing of three local companies that should have been in charge of maintaining the bridge. So its not even just about google.

  • sugarfree@lemmy.world
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    37
    arrow-down
    2
    ·
    10 months ago

    You’d think after nine years the city would do something about the bridge.

    • ShadowRam@kbin.social
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      11
      arrow-down
      12
      ·
      edit-2
      10 months ago

      Yeah, how’s it Google’s fault that there were no signs? blocks? etc.

      9 years is excessive? sure maybe.

      But bridge collapse that evening while approaching it? Google’s Fault? No…

      So where do you draw that line where it’s Google’s Fault?

      1 day? 1 month? 1 year?

      Yeah, you can’t reasonable put a timeline on something like that.

      What happens if it was found out dude used an old paper map? Gonna sue that map company too?

      Just because Google has the ability to update maps quicker than old paper, doesn’t mean they are suddenly obligated to.

      • Zaktor@sopuli.xyz
        link
        fedilink
        English
        arrow-up
        14
        arrow-down
        2
        ·
        10 months ago

        So where do you draw that line where it’s Google’s Fault?

        1 day? 1 month? 1 year?

        Why use these numbers when the number in question is 9 years?

        Yeah, you can’t reasonable put a timeline on something like that.

        I can certainly say that 9 years is too long to fail to update a map that contains a dangerous route.

        • ShadowRam@kbin.social
          link
          fedilink
          arrow-up
          6
          arrow-down
          10
          ·
          10 months ago

          I guess you missed the point.

          Yes, we can all certainly say that’s too long.

          But carry that thought farther as I explained.

          If you are going to make someone legally responsible for something like this, you need to draw a line where it is.
          So where do you draw that line?

          You reasonable can not, and that is because the premise that Google should be responsible for such a thing is ridiculous.

          This case is just a standard US justice system where they just ‘Sue everyone’ and see where the chips fall.

          • Zaktor@sopuli.xyz
            link
            fedilink
            English
            arrow-up
            5
            arrow-down
            2
            ·
            10 months ago

            This is a ridiculous argument. We set limits on things all the time. That the limit will be arbitrary doesn’t mean there simply cannot be liability. 1 year is fine, 6 months is fine, hell, 1 month is fine. The company’s internal processes will expand or contract to fit legal liability.

          • zero_iq@lemm.ee
            link
            fedilink
            arrow-up
            1
            ·
            10 months ago

            You don’t need to draw a line for this case. You just need to decide if 9 years is too long.

  • nakal@kbin.social
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    38
    arrow-down
    7
    ·
    10 months ago

    I am not a guy who blindly trusts technology. Why go forward when you cannot see what’s in front of you? How can that happen?

    AFAIK Google makes a disclaimer about it. A bridge can also be destroyed on the same day, so…

    • Deceptichum@kbin.social
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      29
      arrow-down
      1
      ·
      10 months ago

      Tragically, as he drove cautiously in the darkness and rain, he unsuspectingly followed Google’s outdated directions to what his family later learned for nearly a decade was called the ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ crashing into Snow Creek, where he drowned

      From the picture I could easily imagine myself falling into the hole if it was dark and rainy.

      • jonne@infosec.pub
        link
        fedilink
        arrow-up
        9
        arrow-down
        13
        ·
        10 months ago

        Presumably the road to the bridge would’ve been blocked off with signs and stuf? Is there any information about whether the signage was inadequate? Doesn’t excuse Google for but updating the map in almost a decade, but it seems either council or the driver have more responsibility here.

        • Deceptichum@kbin.social
          link
          fedilink
          arrow-up
          19
          ·
          10 months ago

          Barriers that were normally placed across the bridge entrance were missing due to vandalism, according to the Charlotte Observer.

          • Maalus@lemmy.world
            link
            fedilink
            arrow-up
            20
            arrow-down
            9
            ·
            10 months ago

            So how the hell do they blame google instead of the local government for failing to keep up the signs and blockades?

            It’s such an idiotic case, “the guy drove blindly off a bridge because his navigation told him to”. So in the old days, he would’ve had a paper map and would have driven off the bridge the same way.

            • Zaktor@sopuli.xyz
              link
              fedilink
              English
              arrow-up
              24
              arrow-down
              2
              ·
              10 months ago

              Multiple entities can hold responsibility, including:

              The lawsuit is also suing three local companies, arguing they had a duty to maintain the bridge.

              This was a long running problem that Google was contacted to fix and didn’t. They don’t bear sole responsibility, but that is negligence that contributed to his death.

              • shalafi@lemmy.world
                link
                fedilink
                arrow-up
                1
                arrow-down
                7
                ·
                10 months ago

                This is not on Google and in any way, shape or form. Google Maps is not a civil engineering project. Google is not a state or local governing entity.

                What’s next? Google gets sued because someone missed out on an important interview? “Google Maps mislead me and caused me to lose out on a prospective job offer.”

                • minorninth@lemmy.world
                  link
                  fedilink
                  English
                  arrow-up
                  7
                  ·
                  10 months ago

                  I don’t think we know that yet, and I think the discovery will be interesting.

                  How many reports were there? Were they credible? What other sources of truth did Google consult in deciding to ignore those reports?

                  Google gets lots of reports and needs to filter out spam, and especially malicious reports like trying to mark a competitor’s business as closed, or trying to get less traffic in your neighborhood for selfish reasons. It wouldn’t be reasonable for Google to accept every user suggestion either.

                  So if Google reached out to the town and the town said the bridge is fine, then it’s not Google’s fault. If they ignored multiple credible complaints because the area was too rural to care about, that might be negligent.

            • Nindelofocho@lemmy.world
              link
              fedilink
              English
              arrow-up
              4
              arrow-down
              1
              ·
              10 months ago

              the fault is shared. google was mentioned moreso because its big company and that makes a headline

            • owf@feddit.de
              link
              fedilink
              arrow-up
              1
              arrow-down
              2
              ·
              10 months ago

              I don’t know whether you didn’t read the article or are just one of these simpletons incapable of holding an opinion more nuanced that “good or evil”, but they are suing the owners.

              So in the old days, he would’ve had a paper map and would have driven off the bridge the same way.

              Paper maps don’t talk to you and tell you which way to go, do they?

              I seriously can’t decide whether you’re some Google shill or you’ve just given your brain the day off.

          • jonne@infosec.pub
            link
            fedilink
            arrow-up
            6
            arrow-down
            1
            ·
            10 months ago

            Yeah, that’s definitely more the council’s responsibility then (or those vandals, if they find them).

          • shalafi@lemmy.world
            link
            fedilink
            arrow-up
            4
            ·
            10 months ago

            How in hell were vandals able to remove anything?! There should have been dragon’s teeth or something similar blocking the road.

            • nyan@lemmy.cafe
              link
              fedilink
              English
              arrow-up
              3
              ·
              10 months ago

              It sounds like their “barrier” was probably traffic cones or sawhorses—easily knocked over, stolen, or destroyed. What should have been there, but apparently wasn’t, was a double or triple row of concrete jersey barriers. Or something else that was too heavy or awkward to be easily stolen, or destroyed without leaving serious residue. Nothing like hitting concrete chunks all over the road to make someone slow waaaaaay down and take a look around.

              Yeah, I’d say that whoever was responsible for keeping that road blocked off was the major culprit in this. Google is just a “they have deep pockets, and we might be lucky and get a judge who doesn’t know squat about how nav systems work” add-on.

              • Zaktor@sopuli.xyz
                link
                fedilink
                English
                arrow-up
                1
                ·
                10 months ago

                Knowing about how nav systems work would make them more likely to find against Google, because an online nav system is trivially updatable. Even if they wanted to be extra cautious a simple call to the local police or a peek at a satellite image in the preceding 9 years would give confirmation.

          • jonne@infosec.pub
            link
            fedilink
            arrow-up
            1
            ·
            10 months ago

            It wasn’t mentioned in the summary on top, I assumed there wasn’t anything extra in the article.

    • ZzyzxRoad@lemm.ee
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      8
      arrow-down
      1
      ·
      10 months ago

      I think more than one party can be at fault at the same time, but it also depends on the situation.

      For example. Google maps kept taking rideshare drivers to the wrong entrance of my apartment complex. When I say “wrong,” I mean “nonexistent.” So multiple uber drivers were literally pulling over on the side of a busy street near a freeway on ramp with no bike lane or shoulder. They’d hit their flashers and stop in the middle of the road, blocking the on ramp lane. I’m in the actual parking lot, not tracking them in the app, so I don’t know they’re around the corner. I had two drivers just leave. Did they let me know they were going to cancel and drive away? Fuck no. The actual parking lot and driveway is only a few yards away. If they don’t pass right by it, they can at least see the driveway. I mean, come on. Use your brain.

      After the first time this happened, I tried to move the pin in the app, but it just kept sending drivers to the same place. I started texting them after they accepted the ride, but not all would see it. I contacted google and the pickup spot did change - to a back entrance on the opposite side of the complex that has no parking lot or place to stop unless you have a gate opener. For fuck’s sake.

      Anyway, it’s both of their faults.

    • Nindelofocho@lemmy.world
      link
      fedilink
      English
      arrow-up
      4
      ·
      10 months ago

      driving in the dark and rain is mad sketch. This is more than googles fault. Its also the city for not properly blocking it off. “Vandalism” is just a sorry excuse

    • PsychedSy@sh.itjust.works
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      2
      ·
      10 months ago

      During my time visiting NC I didn’t trust gmaps at all. It would give you 1m shortcuts over dirt roads then back onto the same highway, send you in circles and give you wild routes that somehow made it. It was really interesting after growing up in a newer city with a grid layout.

  • the_itsb [she/her, comrade/them]@hexbear.net
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    18
    arrow-down
    1
    ·
    10 months ago

    There was a minor map glitch in my neighborhood that kept directing people to my house instead of my friend’s house half a mile down the road, and it took me actual weeks of effort (persistent back and forth with them, repeatedly sending map screenshots and data from the county auditor, refusing to let my case get closed, etc) to get it corrected, which I had assumed was because it was a relatively small thing affecting a couple dozen people a year.

    People fruitlessly asking them to fix a bridge out notice for 10 fucking years is horrifying.

    • NaN@lemmy.sdf.org
      link
      fedilink
      English
      arrow-up
      5
      ·
      10 months ago

      I’m a local guide, they still routinely auto-reject mundane edits. I’ve added whole businesses, photos, hours, contact numbers and they reject them too. If I add them piecemeal they’re more likely to allow it. Their algorithm is awful.

    • schnurrito
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      9
      ·
      10 months ago

      On OSM all it takes is one person to delete that bridge if it isn’t there anymore. That is what is so great about wikis.

      • minorninth@lemmy.world
        link
        fedilink
        English
        arrow-up
        5
        ·
        10 months ago

        Doesn’t that also mean that ONE malicious person can get traffic off their local street or hurt a competitor’s business?

        Just like moderating Lemmy, effectively policing user-generated content is a huge challenge.

        • schnurrito
          link
          fedilink
          arrow-up
          4
          arrow-down
          1
          ·
          10 months ago

          It does, but if someone makes changes that actively degrade the map, they can be reverted and blocked from editing. There are monitoring tools available and in general things like that don’t tend to happen, at least not in areas with an active good faith community.

  • 3ntranced@lemmy.world
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    12
    arrow-down
    1
    ·
    10 months ago

    It reminds me of the Office episode where Michaels GPS is like “take the next left” so he starts driving into a lake.

  • 👁️👄👁️@lemm.ee
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    14
    arrow-down
    6
    ·
    10 months ago

    This literally has nothing to do with Google. As shitty as Google is, it’s entirely the city and the driver’s fault.

    • owf@feddit.de
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      4
      arrow-down
      2
      ·
      10 months ago

      Let’s get this straight.

      Google publishes maps that are inaccurate. They were informed of the inaccuracies multiple times, yet did nothing. Subsequently, someone died following their incorrect maps that they couldn’t be bothered to fix — despite the fact that a fucked bridge is clearly potentially super dangerous.

      And you think this has “literally nothing” to do with Google?

      Are you a shareholder or something? That’s some hardcore corporate arse-kissing, imo.

      • 👁️👄👁️@lemm.ee
        link
        fedilink
        English
        arrow-up
        1
        arrow-down
        1
        ·
        10 months ago

        Lol I think the driver with fucking eyeballs should see they’re driving off of a bridge. The maps on Google is literally irrelevant. Not once does your comment suggest they’re somehow a conscious human being that has eyes and should be looking where they drive.

        Maps don’t have to be right for you to know that maybe you should actually look forward when you’re driving, but apparently expecting basic ass human autonomy is being a corporate share holder, what a joke. The driver is responsible for their safety, they’re the one’s controlling the vehicle. GPS navigation is a suggestion on where to go, not the final verdict which you for some reason think it is.

      • 👁️👄👁️@lemm.ee
        link
        fedilink
        English
        arrow-up
        1
        arrow-down
        1
        ·
        edit-2
        10 months ago

        Lol I think the driver with fucking eyeballs should see they’re driving off of a bridge. The maps on Google is literally irrelevant. Not once does your comment suggest they’re somehow a conscious human being that has eyes and should be looking where they drive.

        Maps don’t have to be right for you to know that maybe you should actually look forward when you’re driving, but apparently expecting basic ass human autonomy is being a corporate share holder, what a joke.

        The driver is responsible for their safety, they’re the one’s controlling the vehicle. GPS navigation is a suggestion on where to go, not the final verdict which you for some reason think it is. Did you think the driver just saw the road, put his hands up and think, “Well shit, Maps says to drive off this cliff, I guess I have to!”

      • 👁️👄👁️@lemm.ee
        link
        fedilink
        English
        arrow-up
        1
        arrow-down
        1
        ·
        edit-2
        10 months ago

        When you are using any sort of navigation app, do you believe the navigation is the final verdict? That if it tells you to drive off a cliff that you have to? If you disagree, then you agree that it’s not Google Maps at fault here. That’s why that logic is dumb as hell. The maps provider is completely irrelevant, and so is the map being correct or not.

        My Google Maps didn’t tell me that there was road under construction and to merge into a lane. So I guess I should’ve just gunned it and run everyone over then, makes sense.

  • cestvrai@lemm.ee
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    12
    arrow-down
    5
    ·
    10 months ago

    Google is terrible and could have updated sooner, but not their responsibility.

    I don’t see why residents did not construct a makeshift barricade themselves after years of inaction.

    • owatnext@lemmy.world
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      1
      ·
      edit-2
      10 months ago

      > Pay taxes to local government to maintain road

      > Local government does not maintain road

      > Pay taxes to local government to maintain road while you maintain the road instead

      I see your point, but I think there is a bigger issue.

      Edit: nvm, apparently it is a private bridge?

  • Kekzkrieger@feddit.de
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    8
    arrow-down
    2
    ·
    10 months ago

    Based on the picture in the article, maybe just look at where you’re driving for once. If you can’t see far enough slow down.

    Tho it’s definitely the street maintainers responsibility to put up enough warnings/barriers

    • betwixthewires@lemmy.basedcount.com
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      8
      ·
      10 months ago

      So apparently the barriers were missing “due to vandalism” and it was raining heavily the night this happened.

      I am a bit terrified of this. Sometimes when I’m driving at night I realize, to assume the road doesn’t end right over the next hill is to put full faith in the state. You have to trust your government to am extreme to go 70 mph over a hill you can’t see past. Some people in some places don’t have that luxury, and it won’t be like that forever anywhere.

      • MaxHardwood@lemmy.ca
        link
        fedilink
        English
        arrow-up
        4
        arrow-down
        2
        ·
        10 months ago

        Some people in some places don’t have that luxury, and it won’t be like that forever anywhere

        You’re driving a several thousand kilogram death machine. The luxury you’re referring to is irresponsibility.

  • AutoTL;DR@lemmings.worldB
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    3
    ·
    10 months ago

    This is the best summary I could come up with:


    The family of a US man who drowned after driving off a collapsed bridge are claiming that he died because Google failed to update its maps.

    Philip Paxson’s family are suing the company over his death, alleging that Google negligently failed to show the bridge had fallen nine years earlier.

    Mr Paxson, a father of two, was driving home from his daughter’s ninth birthday party at a friend’s house and was in an unfamiliar neighbourhood at the time of his death, according to the family’s lawsuit.

    “Unfamiliar with local roads, he relied on Google Maps, expecting it would safely direct him home to his wife and daughters,” lawyers for the family said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

    “Tragically, as he drove cautiously in the darkness and rain, he unsuspectingly followed Google’s outdated directions to what his family later learned for nearly a decade was called the ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ crashing into Snow Creek, where he drowned.”

    Local residents had repeatedly contacted Google to have them change their online maps after the bridge collapsed in 2013, the suit claims.


    The original article contains 373 words, the summary contains 179 words. Saved 52%. I’m a bot and I’m open source!