Current Case and Ongoing Investigation

Tesla Model X Sudden Acceleration Lawsuit

On December 30, 2016, McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, and Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, P.C., filed an individual and class action lawsuit against Tesla Motors on behalf of Ji Change Son. The basis of the lawsuit is that a Mr. Son was pulling his Tesla Model X into his garage, it suddenly accelerated, causing the vehicle to crash through his garage wall and into his living room, injuring Son and his passenger.

McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, is a Southern California auto product liability and class action law firm that in 2009 filed the first class action lawsuit against Toyota alleging that defects in the Toyota vehicles were resulting in SUA events. As a result of the SUA issues, and failure to promptly acknowledge those issues, following several years of litigation Toyota settled over 300 private injury and wrongful death lawsuits, settled the class claims valued at up to $1.6 billion, and payed the federal government over $1.2 billion in fines.

According to Richard McCune of McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, there are some similarities between the Toyota problem and the Tesla problem. “What we saw in Toyota, was that the number of SUA events occurring with Toyota vehicles was significantly higher than other manufacturers, meaning that something was going on other than ‘driver error.'” What the complaint alleges is that the ratio of SUA events for Tesla versus the rate found in the literature on other vehicles is staggering – far higher than what was reported for Toyota vehicles.”

The similarities do not end with the higher number of reported SUA events. Like Toyota, Tesla’s response to an obvious serious safety problem is to blame the driver. Here, Tesla claims that as Mr. Son was pulling into the garage, he decided to press the accelerator pedal all the way to the floor. One of the features of the Tesla, is that it records events – including taking and recording pictures from a forward facing camera. Below are three pictures captured by the Tesla immediately before Mr. Son supposedly decided to press the accelerator all the way to the floor with his son in the right front seat.

Tesla Crash One
Tesla Crash One
Tesla Crash One

In response to the lawsuit, rather than defending its engineering, Tesla blamed Mr. Son and falsely impugned his motives.

In its rush to blame the driver in this and each of the other accidents, Tesla does not explain why the engineers at Tesla designed the vehicle to accept an instruction to accelerate full speed into a wall in the vehicle owner’s home. According to Richard McCune, “Tesla has marketed and sold these very expensive vehicles to consumers claiming that they are far and away the smartest and safest vehicles on the road. A vehicle that has been engineered to know it is at home, open the garage door, and even pull in or out of the garage without a driver, but then blindly accepts an instruction (whether the result of driver error or electronic malfunction) to go full speed into the garage wall is neither smart nor safe and is defective. It was just very fortunate that no one was in the garage or in the family room on the other side of the wall. I believe that unless Tesla acknowledges and fixes this problem, it is only a matter of time before the picture captured by the camera in a Tesla SUA event is going to show an unspeakable tragedy.”

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