A California state court jury handed Tesla a sweeping victory Friday, finding that the carmaker’s Autopilot feature appeared to be the first trial related to crashes involving partially automated driving software that failed to perform safely. did not fail.
The decision could be a significant victory for Tesla as it tests and rolls out its Autopilot and more advanced “Full Self-Driving (FSD)” system, which Chief Executive Elon Musk has described as vital to his company’s future. , But which has attracted the regulator. and legal investigation.
Los Angeles resident Justin Hsu sued the electric-vehicle maker in 2020, saying her Tesla Model S pulled into a curb while it was on Autopilot and then an airbag deployed “so violently It broke the plaintiff’s jaw, dislocated teeth, and caused nerve damage to her face.
It alleged that there were defects in the design of the autopilot and airbags, and sought more than $3 million in damages for the alleged defects and other claims.
Tesla denied liability for the 2019 crash. It said in a court filing that Hsu used Autopilot on city streets despite Tesla’s user manual warning against doing so.
The jury awarded Hsu zero damages during a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday. It also found that the airbag did not fail to perform safely, and that Tesla did not willfully fail to disclose the facts to him.
Hsu broke down in tears outside the courtroom after the jury announced its verdict.
Donald Slavik, one of Hu’s attorneys, said he was disappointed with the result and appreciated the jury service. Tesla’s attorney, Michael Carey, declined to comment.
Tesla calls its driver-assistance systems Autopilot, or full self-driving, but says the features do not make the cars autonomous, and that human drivers must be “ready to take over at any moment.”
The EV maker introduced its Autopilot in 2015, and the first fatal crash in the United States was reported in 2016, but the case never went to trial.
critical time for tesla
The Hsu trial, which has not been reported by other media, unfolded in Los Angeles Superior Court over the past three weeks, and featured testimony from three Tesla engineers.
It was an important time for the company as it prepares for other tests starting this year related to semi-automated driving systems, which Musk has claimed are safer than human drivers.
While the trial result is not legally binding in other cases, it is considered a test case because it will serve as a bellwether to help Tesla and other plaintiffs’ lawyers, experts say.
Cassandra Burke Robertson, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law who has studied self-driving car liability, said the early cases “are indicative of how later cases are likely to go.”
Tesla is also under investigation US Department of Justice and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on its claims about self-driving capabilities and the safety of the technology, respectively.
The main question in Autopilot cases was who is responsible for the accident when a car was in driver-assistant Autopilot mode—a human driver, the machine, or both? Hsu’s lawsuit alleges that the Tesla vehicle hit the curb so suddenly that she did not have time to avoid it, even though her hands were on the steering wheel and she was alert.
Reuters was the first to report A 2016 video used by Tesla to promote its self-driving technology was actually staged, to show capabilities – such as stopping at red lights and accelerating at green lights – that the system does not have. Was, according to the testimony of a senior engineer.
were from the description about the video A statement from a Tesla executive in another case.
That executive, Ashok Eluswami, director of Autopilot software at Tesla, testified about the videotape during the Sue trial last week.