Source: Jury: Tesla is 1% at fault in the deadly crash of two…
Found on: 2022-07-22 13:21:17
The 2014 Tesla Model S in which teenagers Barrett Riley and Edgar Monserratt Martinez died in a May 8 crash on Seabreeze Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale National Transportation Safety Board
Tesla is 1% to blame in the high-speed crash in Fort Lauderdale that killed two 18-year-old high school seniors after a company dealer disabled the car’s speed-limiting device without asking to the parents, a Florida jury found.
This week’s verdict in federal court in Fort Lauderdale places 90% of the blame on Barrett Riley, the deceased teenager who was driving over 100 mph in a 30 mph zone, and 9% on Riley’s father, James Riley, who filed the lawsuit against the electric car company, indicates the court’s ruling. It also found that the mother, Jenny Riley, was not at fault in her son’s death.
Jurors also awarded $6 million in damages to the teen’s mother and $4.5 million to the father for their pain and suffering, of which Tesla would only have to pay 1%, equal to $105,000.
It is the first known case of a Tesla accident to go to trial, Michael Brooks, acting executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, told The Associated Press.
The lawsuit says the 2014 Tesla Model S never should have gone so fast or caused a fire that killed the two Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest High School students 16 days before their May 2018 graduation. James Riley, the father of the driver, argued in the suit that the crash was “entirely possible to survive” and that it was the fire caused by the faulty lithium-ion batteries that killed the teens, but the Fort Lauderdale court dismissed that suit, leaving the claim for negligence against Tesla, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Barrett Riley (left) and Edgar Monserratt (right). Facebook
Tesla denied negligence, arguing that it was the teen’s parents who were negligent in allowing their son to drive “when they were aware of his history of speeding and reckless driving,” The Associated Press reported, citing the judge’s instructions to the jury.
A 2019 report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of the crash and post-crash fire was “driver loss of control as a result of excessive speed.” He also noted that the post-crash fire originating from the crash-damaged lithium-ion battery contributed to the severity of the injuries.
After Barrett Riley was ticketed for driving the Tesla 112 mph in a 50 mph zone in March 2018, James Riley ordered the installation of a speed limiting device, restricting the vehicle’s speed to no more than 85 mph. But the NTSB investigation revealed that his son later asked employees at a Tesla dealership in Dania Beach to remove the speed bump.
Two months after receiving the ticket and following the removal of the speed limiter, Riley reached speeds in excess of 100 mph with his partner Edgar Monserratt Martinez in the passenger seat and another teenager in the back seat, according to investigators. He traversed the 1300 block of Fort Lauderdale’s Seabreeze Boulevard, a 30-mph zone that is approaching a curve with an advisory speed of 25 mph.
Authorities said Riley lost control of the Tesla, which hit the wall in front of a house twice, burst into flames and crashed into a utility pole across the street. He was going 116 mph three seconds before impact. Riley and Monserratt were killed and the rear seat passenger was hospitalized.
Miami Herald Staff Writer Jay Weaver contributed to this article.
This story was originally published on July 22, 2022 9:21 am.