A court in California ruled that the Tesla is not responsible for a 2019 fatal crash that allegedly involved its Autopilot system.
This is the first trial involving a case where software is accused of directly causing death. The lawsuit alleged that Tesla knowingly delivered cars with a defective Autopilot system, which led to a crash that killed a Model 3 owner and seriously injured two passengers, Reuters reports.
According to the lawsuit, 37-year-old Micah Lee was driving his Tesla Model 3 on a freeway outside of Los Angeles at 65 miles per hour when it veered off the road, hit a palm tree and caught fire. Lee died in the crash.
Tesla was sued for $400 million plus punitive damages by Lee’s family and the two surviving victims, including a boy who was 8 at the time and suffered extremely serious abdominal injuries in the accident, according to an earlier Reuters report.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that Tesla sold Lee faulty, “experimental” software when he bought a Model 3 in 2019 that was believed to have full self-driving capability. The FSD system was and is, however, still in beta.
Tesla’s defense argued that there was no such defect and that an analysis cited by the plaintiffs’ lawyers that found a steering problem was actually looking for problems that were theoretically possible. As a result of this analysis, according to the company, a fix was built to prevent this problem from happening again. Tesla blamed human factors for the accident, pointing to tests that showed Mr Lee had consumed alcohol before getting into the car and argued there was no certainty the Autopilot system was in use during the journey.
The jury ultimately found that there was no defect and Tesla was acquitted on Tuesday. Tesla has faced lawsuits over its Autopilot system in the past, but this is the first involving a fatal accident.