McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP (MWA)— filed a lawsuit against Tesla, Inc. on behalf of eight plaintiffs in five separate states alleging that their Tesla vehicles engaged in sudden uncommanded acceleration (SUA). The complaint, which seeks to represent a nationwide class of Tesla consumers, alleges that Tesla Model S, Model X, and Model 3 vehicles all demonstrate high, unexplained rates of reported SUA incidents, and details Plaintiffs’ own experiences with SUA while driving their Tesla vehicles. MWA is joined on the complaint by the law firm of Bailey Glasser LLP, with whom it will team on the litigation.
The attorneys reported, one study of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration complaints calculated that across the automobile industry, the annual rate of reported incidents is approximately 1 per 100,000 vehicles. But by 2016, one year after launching the Model X, that model alone was reporting an annual rate of 71 SUA incidents per 100,000 vehicles. Such rates remain far higher than normal into the present day.
The complaint details the plaintiffs’ experiences with SUA events, recounting how each experienced unexplained full power acceleration in dangerous circumstances. One plaintiff reports that her vehicle accelerated to full power in a parking garage, hitting several speed bumps before colliding into two parked vehicles with sufficient force to propel them forward into a wall. The driver suffered serious injuries and, while Tesla has promised to offer an explanation for the event, none has been forthcoming. Each plaintiff reports that the terrifying circumstances of being unable to control their vehicles could have led to far worse result of serious injury or death. In every case, however, Tesla either has been non-responsive or claimed that the driver was responsible for the incident.
MWA Partner David C. Wright leads the firm’s product liability practice and uses his extensive litigation and trial background to hold vehicle manufacturers responsible for their actions. Wright recently secured a class action settlement valued in excess of $25 million for a product liability action alleging a design defect in certain BMW engines, resulting in excessive oil consumption and premature battery failure.
“We understand and respect Tesla’s role as an innovator in the automobile industry, particularly its leading role in reducing the automobile industry’s dependence on fossil fuels. Tesla’s commitment to environmental innovation is why many consumers put their trust in the Tesla brand. But that means Tesla has a responsibility not to betray that trust and put consumers at risk,” commented Wright. “We are particularly disturbed that Tesla, a company with a progressive reputation in so many ways, has nevertheless reverted to the ‘blame-the-driver’ strategy when it comes to the SUA incidents alleged in the complaint, while consistently refusing to disclose the vehicle data on which Tesla claims to rely. Unfortunately, our clients concluded that the only way Tesla would listen to and respect their concerns was to file this lawsuit. We look forward to testing Tesla’s blame-the-driver claims in court, and in the meantime hope that Tesla will reconsider its decision not to acknowledge the dangerous conditions being created by its automobiles at this time.”