For turning off a speed limitation on an electric vehicle involved in a violent collision that killed two teenagers, a jury in Florida determined Tesla to be just 1% negligent.
(AP) MIAMI — In a horrific collision that claimed the lives of two teenagers, a jury in Florida found Tesla 1% negligent for turning off the electric car’s speed limits.
The jury’s decision on Tuesday attributed 90% of the culpability to the driver, Barrett Riley, and 9% to his father, James Riley, who sued Tesla.
According to Michael Brooks, acting executive director at the Center for Auto Safety, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, it is the first documented instance of a Tesla crash case that has gone to trial.
Barrett Riley and his friend Edgar Monserrat Martinez were killed in a crash in May 2018 near Fort Lauderdale Beach just as they were ready to graduate from their South Florida private school. A passenger in the backseat was ejected and survived.
He was traveling at 116 mph (186 kph) in a 30 mph (48 kph) zone, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, and the most likely reason for the collision was “the driver’s loss of control due to excessive speed.”
The judge rejected James Riley’s lawsuit’s claim that Tesla intentionally designed defective lithium-ion batteries that “burst into an uncontrollable and fatal fire” upon impact, despite Riley’s claims that the crash was “entirely survivable” and that the teenagers were killed only as a result of the subsequent fire.
Additionally, James Riley claimed that Tesla removed a speed limitation without his consent. He had the device put in place so that his son couldn’t drive faster than 85 mph (136 kph).
An inquiry revealed that the teenager had requested the Tesla dealership in Dania Beach to put the vehicle back in regular operation while it was being serviced roughly a month before the collision.
Tesla denied being careless when the speed limit was turned off. According to the jury instructions provided by the judge, the corporation claimed that the teen’s parents were negligent for letting him operate the car “although they were aware of his history of speeding and dangerous driving.”
The autopilot and full self-driving features of the vehicle are the subjects of other litigation against Tesla, according to Brooks of the Center for Auto Safety.
According to the newspaper, the jury recommended giving the teen’s mother Jenny Riley $6 million for pain and suffering and the father $4.5 million.
However, the distribution of blame means that Tesla will only be held accountable for $105,000, or 1% of the carelessness as established by the jury’s finding, according to Curt Miner, a lawyer for the Riley family.
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