While the Tesla electric automobile may be groundbreaking, it is not without controversy. One of the first controversies to assail the automaker was the so-called “autopilot” feature available on some models. While the manufacturer maintains that drivers should never relinquish control of the vehicle, there is doubt that drivers are aware that the autopilot is not actually self-driving technology. Several fatal accidents have occurred, and the company is facing a few lawsuits in regard to the safety of the system. The company is now facing a new lawsuit, this time over the safety of the lithium-ion batteries as Yahoo Finance reports.
A Miami-based law firm has filed a lawsuit against Tesla Motors, Inc. in the Superior Court of the State of California. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family of the late Barrett Riley, an 18-year-old who died in an accident that occurred shortly before his graduation from high school.
On May 8, 2018, Barrett was driving a 2014 Tesla Model S vehicle. He accelerated to a high rate of speed, causing him to lose control of the vehicle. He side-swiped a wall in front of the house, causing the lithium-ion batteries to erupt into an uncontrollable fire.
According to the complaint, Barrett’s parents, who owned the vehicle, requested that a speed limiter be placed on the car. The speed limiter would prevent the vehicle from obtaining speeds of higher than 85 miles per hour. Mrs. Riley specifically advised Tesla she wanted a speed limiter because their son had recently received a speeding ticket.
The speed limiter was installed as requested. However, when it was taken in for service at Tesla’s Dania Beach service department, it was removed. It was removed without permission and the removal was never reported to Mr. or Mrs. Riley.
Additionally, the complaint further alleged that Riley suffered from no serious injuries due to the accident, but rather perished in the fire caused by the lithium-ion batteries. It claims that Tesla was aware that the batteries were subject to “thermal runaway.”
The lawsuit alleges wrongful death and negligence on behalf of Tesla Motors.