Judge Finds Reasonable Evidence That Tesla and Musk Knew Autopilot Was Broken – InsideEVs

After two victories in California, Tesla is threatened with a setback in Florida.

Tesla FSD Beta does not stop at the pedestrian crossing Tesla FSD Beta does not stop at the pedestrian crossing

November 24, 2023 at 12:04 pm ET

According to Portal, a judge in Florida found “reasonable evidence” that Tesla, along with its CEO Elon Musk and other executives, knew that the so-called advanced driver assistance system Autopilot was flawed but still allowed cars to be driven unsafely.

The news comes after Judge Reid Scott of the Circuit Court for Palm Beach County ruled last week that the plaintiff in a lawsuit over a fatal accident involving a Tesla Model 3 can go to trial and seek punitive damages against the electric vehicle maker for willful misconduct and gross negligence.

The lawsuit is related to a 2019 accident north of Miami in which a Tesla Model 3 drove under the trailer of an 18-wheeler that had veered onto the road, ripping off the car’s roof and killing Stephen Banner, the owner of the electric vehicle, killed . According to Portal, a trial scheduled for October was postponed rather than rescheduled.

As part of the ruling that allows the plaintiff to go to trial, the judge found that Banner’s wife should be able to argue to the jury that Tesla’s warnings in the manual and “clickwrap” agreement were inadequate.

“It is reasonable to conclude that defendant Tesla, through its CEO and engineers, was aware of the problem that the ‘Autopilot’ was unable to detect cross traffic,” the judge wrote.

Scott cited a promotional video released by Tesla in 2016 (embedded below) that shows one of its electric vehicles driving without human intervention. There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the video that says, “The driver is there for legal reasons only. He does nothing. The car drives itself.”

“There is no indication in this video that this is an ambitious video or that this technology does not currently exist on the market,” the judge wrote, adding that the video shows scenarios “not dissimilar” to that are what Banner experienced.

The same video the judge was referring to was part of another court case in which Ashok Elluswamy, director of Tesla’s Autopilot software, said the promotional clip was staged and that the system did not have the capabilities shown at the time.

This latest decision is a major blow for the Austin-based automaker. The company had previously won two product liability lawsuits in California against the so-called autopilot system.