The family of a Walter Huang has filed a wrongful death suit against Tesla Motors Inc. following a crash that ended his life. On March 23, 2018, Mr. Huang was traveling southbound on Highway 101 when his vehicle, a Tesla Model X, misread the lane lines, failed to detect a concrete traffic barrier, failed to brake the car, and instead, accelerated the car until it struck the median at 71 miles per hour (according to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board). Huang was killed on impact.
According to the suit, “Based on Tesla’s advertising and promotional material, Decedent Walter Huang believed the Tesla Model X’s technology was such that the autopilot features included designed-in programs, software, hardware, and systems that would eliminate the risk of harm or injury to the vehicle operator.” It continues to allege that Mr. Huang “reasonably believed the 2017 Tesla Model X vehicle was safer than a human-operated vehicle because of the Defendant’s claimed technical superiority regarding the vehicle’s autopilot system, including Tesla’s ‘traffic-aware cruise control’, ‘autosteer lane-keeping assistance’ and other safety components.” Huang’s family notes that, despite these advertisement claims by Tesla, Mr. Huang complained on numerous occasions about his vehicle’s autopilot problems that Tesla was never able to resolve.
Plaintiff’s attorneys hold that Tesla either knew or should have known about the vehicle software’s defects that consequently left owners and operators of the Model X in danger of crashing, and moreover, Tesla either knew or should have known that said owners and operators were wholly unaware of the Model X’s defects. Thus, these operators should have been notified of the software issues, sparing them of potential harm. Instead, Mr. Huang was unknowingly driving a computer-operated vehicle that had the potential to malfunction and crash at any moment, and this potential was tragically actualized resulting in Mr. Huang’s death.