The family of Walter Huang, who died when his Tesla Model X crashed into a highway median while on “Autopilot” mode last year, has sued Tesla and the state of California. The lawsuit, filed last week in state court in Santa Clara County, takes aim at Tesla’s controversial semi-autonomous driving feature, which Elon Musk recently promised investors would soon be “fully autonomous.”
The lawsuit, brought on behalf of Huang’s family by the law firm Minami Tamaki LLP, alleges that Huang’s Tesla “lacked a properly designed system for crash avoidance,” and argues that Tesla was negligent in its marketing materials and communications with drivers. “Based on Tesla’s advertising and promotional material, [Huang] believed the Tesla Model X’s technology…would eliminate the risk of harm or injury to the vehicle operator,” the complaint states. Huang “reasonably believed the 2017 Tesla Model X vehicle was safer than a human-operated vehicle because of Defendant’s claimed technical superiority regarding the vehicle’s autopilot system.”
The lawsuit comes as Tesla faces renewed scrutiny over the safety of its semi-autonomous driving software. The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigated Huang’s death last year, is currently investigating another high-profile collision that claimed the life of a 50-year old man in Florida recently, and may also involve Autopilot.