PALO ALTO, Calif. — A Tesla Model X
owner has filed a sudden unintended acceleration class-action lawsuit
against Tesla Motors Inc. after his electric sport-utility vehicle
crashed through the garage and into his home while being parked.
owner, Ji Chang Son, is a South Korean celebrity who lives in
California. According to a news
release issued by Son’s attorneys, Tesla claims that Son has
threatened to use his celebrity status to hurt Tesla unless a
financial agreement could be reached.
Son claims he was turning
into his driveway on Sept. 10, 2016, at 6 miles per hour and had just
opened his garage when the car suddenly accelerated through the
garage into the living room.
"The vehicle spontaneously began
to accelerate at full power, jerking forward and crashing through the
interior wall of the garage, destroying several wooden support beams
in the wall and a steel sewer pipe, among other things, and coming to
rest in the plaintiff's living room,” the lawsuit
Tesla said in a statement in a story
on www.cnbc.com that it has conducted a full investigation and
disagrees with Son.
"The evidence, including data from the
car, conclusively shows that the crash was the result of Mr. Son
pressing the accelerator pedal all the way to 100 percent," a
Tesla spokesperson said.
Tesla said it has protections against
Bryant Walker Smith, a former transportation
engineer who teaches technology and mobility law at the University of
South Carolina School of Law, said that evidence will be key in this
“Cases like this require evidence rather than
speculation, and I look forward to seeing that evidence presented and
analyzed,” Smith told The Northern California Record. “And
I say this having taught an entire course on the sudden
unintended-acceleration debacle from a decade ago.”
cites several other sudden acceleration complaints registered with
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
managing the lawsuit said Tesla has sold about 16,000 Model X SUVs in
the U.S., all of which use electronic acceleration-control systems by
which complex computer and sensor systems communicate an accelerator
pedal’s position to the computers, telling the SUVs what their
speeds should be.
“Without more information, it would be
irresponsible of me to speculate on technical possibility or
plausibility in this case,” Smith said. “At some point in the
future, cars that go through walls will probably be considered
defective — but that doesn't seem to be the claim in this
Son is represented by McCune Wright Arevalo LLP and
Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, P.C. McCune Wright Arevalo LLP
in 2009 filed the first class-action lawsuit against Toyota alleging
that defects were resulting in sudden acceleration events. Toyota
settled more than 300 private-injury and wrongful-death lawsuits,
settled the class claims that were valued at up to $1.6 billion, and
paid more than $1.2 billion in fines to the federal government.
of Son’s attorneys said there are plenty of similarities in the two
"What we saw in Toyota was that the number of
sudden-acceleration events occurring with Toyota vehicles was
significantly higher than other manufacturers, meaning that something
was going on other than 'driver error,’” attorney Richard McCune
said in the news
release. “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