A federal jury in Florida has given Tesla a tiny piece of the blame for a fiery 2018 accident that left two teenagers dead.
The jury on Tuesday awarded $10.5 million in damages but said the electric car company founded by Elon Musk bears just 1 percent of the blame for the crash, NBC News reported.
According to The Associated Press, the family’s attorney said the apportionment of responsibility means the parents of Barrett Riley are entitled to receive $105,000 from the company.
James Riley went after Tesla in a lawsuit after Barrett and his friend Edgar Monserratt Martinez, both 18, died in a May 2018 crash near Fort Lauderdale Beach.
— Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) May 9, 2018
Riley argued that batteries in the 2014 Tesla Model S sedan ignited after the crash.
He claimed the two teens survived the impact but died when the car caught fire.
Riley additionally alleged that a Tesla technician had removed a device to limit the car’s speed to 85 mph without the family’s consent.
Tesla pushed back, saying the device in question would not have prevented the accident. The company also said no proof was shown that the battery was defective.
According to the AP, the speed limiter was removed by workers at Tesla’s Dania Beach dealership at the request of Barrett Riley.
Although the jury did not hold Tesla blameless, it put 90 percent of the responsibility for the accident on the teenager.
Barrett Riley was behind the wheel when the car, going 116 mph, crashed while going through a curve marked with a maximum speed of 25 mph.
The 18-year-old had been given a speeding ticket for driving 112 mph two months before the fatal crash.
The jury placed 9 percent of the blame on James Riley himself.
An attorney for Riley issued a statement claiming victory, according to NBC News.
“We are pleased that, in what we understand to be the first case to go to trial against Tesla involving an accident involving one of their vehicles, the jury found Tesla to have been negligent in removing the speed limiter without letting Mr. or Mrs. Riley know,” the statement said.
After the lawsuit was filed, Tesla unveiled a software feature dedicated to Barrett Riley that allowed users to install a speed limiter on their cars directly, according to Electrek.
— Carey (@ccoddcbs4news) June 26, 2018
Earlier this month, another Tesla vehicle was involved in a crash that left two people dead in Florida.
A 2015 Tesla Model S exited Interstate 75 in Gainesville and entered a rest stop when the vehicle crashed into the back of a parked 18-wheeler. The accident killed a California couple.
This is the 37th Tesla crash to be probed by the NHTSA. Couple from California were killed when their Tesla drove into the back of a Walmart truck that was parked in a Florida parking lot. The impact was so severe, the car’s roof was sheared off. pic.twitter.com/FXo3NoJEXg
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) July 9, 2022
Michael Brooks, acting executive director at the Center for Auto Safety, told the AP that other lawsuits have been filed against Tesla, mostly related to the autopilot and full self-driving systems.
But he said the Riley lawsuit is the first known case involving a Tesla crash that has gone to trial.
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