A Florida judge has ruled that a lawsuit accusing Tesla of overselling the capabilities of its Autopilot system and causing a fatal crash can proceed to trial next year.
Background on the Lawsuit
A Florida judge has allowed a lawsuit filed by Kim Banner, accusing Tesla of overselling Autopilot’s capabilities and causing her husband’s death, to go to trial next year.
Judge Rejects Tesla’s Motion
Circuit Judge Reid Scott rejected Tesla’s motion to summarily dismiss the case, citing evidence presented by Banner’s attorneys. The judge also ruled that Banner can seek punitive damages from Tesla, which could potentially reach millions of dollars.
Tesla attorney Whitney Cruz declined to comment, and the company did not respond to an email. Musk eliminated Tesla’s media and public relations department four years ago.
Banner’s attorney, Trey Lytal, expressed that the ruling shows Tesla’s involvement in intentional and reckless decisions leading to customers’ deaths, and anticipates the full release of the decision soon.
Focus on Tesla’s Marketing and Autopilot Functionality
The judge focused on Tesla’s marketing and Musk’s comments about Autopilot, indicating that the company warns drivers about the system’s limitations, but Banner’s attorneys argue that the marketing implied the cars are self-driving.
Details of the Fatal Crash
The fatal crash occurred when Jeremy Banner, traveling almost 70 mph, activated Autopilot and took his hands off the wheel. The car failed to detect a tractor-trailer in its path, resulting in Banner’s death.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the crash and stated that both the truck driver and Tesla were at fault. The NTSB recommended safeguards for Autopilot to prevent similar incidents.
Settlement with Trucking Company
The trucking company involved in the crash has reached a confidential settlement with Kim Banner and is no longer part of the lawsuit.