Lawyer Claims Tesla Knew

Lawyer Claims Tesla Knew

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, told shareholders on Thursday that they will be moving the company's headquarters from Palo Alto, Calif., to Austin, Texas. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

During closing arguments in a California state court on Tuesday, an attorney involved in a lawsuit against Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), pertaining to a fatal accident, highlighted an internal safety analysis conducted by the company. The analysis revealed that Tesla was aware of a steering malfunction in its Autopilot driver assistant feature approximately two years prior.

This revelation occurred in the first U.S. trial that addresses allegations of Autopilot’s involvement in a fatal incident. The plaintiffs are collectively seeking a jury award of $400 million, not including punitive damages. The verdict in this trial could have implications for similar cases throughout the United States.



According to court documents, the civil complaint alleges that the Autopilot feature led to a tragic incident involving Micah Lee’s Model 3. According to reports, Lee’s vehicle swiftly deviated from a highway east of Los Angeles at a speed of 65 miles per hour, colliding with a palm tree and igniting into flames within moments.

Tragically, the 2019 collision resulted in the loss of Lee’s life and inflicted severe injuries upon his two passengers, one of whom, an 8-year-old boy at the time, was disemboweled. The lawsuit, brought forth by the passengers against Tesla, asserts that the Autopilot system was defective.

Tesla has denied the allegations, contending that Micah Lee had consumed alcohol before operating the vehicle. The company also emphasized the uncertainty surrounding the engagement of the Autopilot feature during the accident.

Tesla has been actively conducting tests and deploying its Autopilot system alongside the more sophisticated Full Self-Driving (FSD) system. CEO Elon Musk has emphasized the significance of these technologies for Tesla’s future, although their implementation has attracted regulatory and legal examination.



Jonathan Michaels, who represents the passengers, showed jurors a 2017 internal Tesla safety analysis identifying “incorrect steering command” as a defect, involving an “excessive” steering wheel angle.

“They predicted this was going to happen. They knew about it. They named it,” he said.

According to a Tesla attorney, the safety analysis conducted did not uncover any defects; rather, its purpose was to proactively tackle any potential issues that could arise with the vehicle.

The attorney argued that the simplest explanation for the crash was human error, and asked jurors to resist awarding damages solely because of the victims’ severe injuries.

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