This lawsuit claims that Tesla Model X SUVs are susceptible to sudden unintended acceleration (SUA), in which the Model X will accelerate at full power even though the driver reports that they did not command the acceleration by pressing on the accelerator pedal, either at all or not to the degree that would call for the application of full power.
Tesla vehicles are only as good as the hardware, engineering, and programming of their onboard computers. As even casual computer users know, even the most sophisticated and successful computer companies in history, such as Microsoft and Apple, regularly release computers and software with bugs, glitches, and unanticipated problems that cause their computers to unexpectedly crash, malfunction, or work differently than intended. These bugs have serious consequences for users of traditional computer products. But for a computer that controls a 5,000-pound machine that can explosively accelerate from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in under 3 seconds, the consequences of a computer glitch can be catastrophic. For that reason, there has to be zero-tolerance for any glitch, bug, or malfunction - a goal no computer company has ever been able to achieve.
One plaintiff in this case, Korean actor and singer Ji Chang Son, is a resident of Orange County, California. On August 5, 2016, Ji Chang Son and his wife purchased a 2016 Model X from the Tesla Gallery in Costa Mesa, California. Ji Chang Son was the driver of the Model X when the vehicle experienced uncommanded full power acceleration while he was pulling into the garage of his home in Orange County on September 10, 2016. This sudden acceleration caused the vehicle to crash through the interior wall of the garage of his home and come to rest in his living room, injuring himself and his son who was a front-seat passenger.
In the first full year of production since the Model X was first introduced, Tesla has received, or is otherwise aware of, ten nearly identical instances in which drivers of the Model X experienced full power acceleration while either in the act of parking the Model X or while driving the Model X at slow speed, eight of which resulted in a crash of the vehicle. In addition, there are at least two additional SUA events, including Plaintiffs’ and another experienced by a driver of a Model X that did not result in an accident. That other SUA event, which mirrored the SUA incident experienced by Plaintiff – that did not result in a collision – was reported to Tesla, but Tesla took no action. Based on that fact, there are likely other Model X SUA events that Tesla is aware of but not recorded in the NHTSA database. According to a study by NASA of unintended acceleration reports to the National Highway Traffic Administration from 2000 to 2010, there rate of SUA incidents was 1 per 100,000 vehicles per year when looking at all vehicles on the market. By comparison, the Tesla Model X has a staggeringly high rate of SUA incidents of 62 per 100,000 vehicles per year.
Despite its knowledge of the problem, Tesla has failed to properly disclose, explain, fix, or program safeguards to correct the underlying problem of unintended acceleration. This leaves over sixteen thousand Model X owners with vehicles that could potentially accelerate out of control.
Based on the facts of the case, the plantiffs allege the following violations: