Thursday 16 July 2009

Texting teen falls down New York manhole

Last year there was a talk here in UK about adding padding to the lamp-posts because people were bumping into them while texting. The survey of over 1,000 Britons suggested that one in 10 had suffered an injury from a collision while sending an SMS. The research claimed that there were 68,000 SMS-related injuries in the UK last year, ranging from minor bumps to skull fractures.

Now, I read this news about Alexa Longueira, 15, whose family is suing after the teenager fell into an open manhole in Staten Island, New York, while trying to send a text message. Poor Alexa apparently suffered a fright and some scrapes on her arms and back when she fell.

Her mother, Kim Longueira, said it did not matter that her daughter was texting when she fell down the hole. "Oh my God, it was putrid," she told MNBC. "One of her sneakers is still down there."

If the case comes to court it is destined to join such infamous lawsuits as the woman who sued McDonald's after spilling hot coffee on herself, which inspired an annual award for the most ridiculous lawsuit. A glance at British legal history suggests Longueira may have actually have a chance of winning. In the 1964 case of Haley v London Electricity Board it was deemed workmen should have known a hole might pose a threat to visually impaired people.

Whether texting and walking is now so common that a court ruling will require workmen – and the rest of us – to adjust our actions accordingly remains to be seen.

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