Judge Affirms Evidence That Tesla, Musk Knew of Autopilot Defects

Tesla’s Florida Loss Follows Two Wins in CA

A Florida judge recently determined that there was adequate proof indicating Tesla, CEO Elon Musk, and other executives had knowledge that the Autopilot driver assistance system had faults but still permitted automobiles to be driven unsafely, as reported by Reuters.

An announcement was recently put forth after Judge Reid Scott, situated in the Circuit Court for Palm Beach County, had determined more recently that the complainant in a lawsuit regarding a deadly accident involving a Tesla Model 3 should proceed to go to trial and include punitive damages claims against the EV producer for deliberate misconduct and extensive negligence.

A lawsuit pertaining to an incident in 2019, located to the north of Miami, has been filed. Involving a Tesla Model 3 that drove under the trailer of a truck that had made a turn onto the highway, the collision completely removed the car’s roof, leading to the death of Stephen Banner–at the time the owner of the electric vehicle. The trial, which was initially meant to be held in October, according to Reuters, has not since been rescheduled.

The ruling that permits the plaintiff to go to court included a comment from the judge that will allow Banner’s spouse to tell the jury that Tesla’s directions in its user manual and “clickwrap” agreement were insufficient.

“It is logical to assume that the Defendant Tesla and its CEO and engineers were well aware of the issue of ‘Autopilot’ not being able to identify cross traffic,” the judge declared. This suggests that the company was conscious of the problem and had taken steps to remedy it. However, the judge noted that the Autopilot system was still not functioning properly and that it was a cause for concern.

Scott referred to a promotional clip floated by Tesla in 2016 (embedded below) with the exception of a disclaimer which stated “The driver is merely present for legal purposes. They do not need to take any action – the vehicle is driving itself”, that displayed an autonomous car in motion.

“The judge noted in their ruling that the video was lacking any suggestion that it was intended to be aspirational or that the technology shown does not yet exist in the market. They went on to say that the scenes depicted in the video were ‘not dissimilar’ to what Banner experienced.”

A similar video, which was mentioned by the judge, was used in a different legal proceeding wherein Ashok Elluswamy, the director of Tesla’s Autopilot programming, stated that the promotional film was staged and that the system did not have the featured capacities at that moment.

This current ruling is a setback to the Austin-based automotive manufacturer. Having concluded successfully in two product responsibility tribunal cases in California involving the Autopilot system, this fresh verdict is unfavourable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *