(PresidentialHill.com)- Fatalities have occurred when people implement the autopilot feature on their Tesla. Lawsuits are piling up.
A Florida judge said that Elon Musk, the company’s founder, won’t have to appear in court to testify in the case of Banner v. Tesla Inc., 50-2019-CA-0099662, Circuit Court of 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Tesla Inc. is being sued by the family of a Tesla owner who was killed in a crash while using Autopilot.
Jeremy Banner, 50, died when the Model 3 he was driving plowed into a tractor-trailer. The car failed to brake or steer to avoid the truck on a Florida highway. The lawsuit also names the driver of the truck as a defendant.
Banner had put on the Autopilot about 10 seconds before the collision.
The judge’s ruling shields the company’s CEO from being questioned by lawyers.
Without Musk’s deposition, it will be much more difficult for plaintiffs to prove that Tesla is an irresponsible company that lied in its marketing about the safety of driver-assistance software.
The company’s remarkable valuation, nearly one trillion dollars, is primarily built on the marketing that “autonomous driving is the way of the future.”
Tesla has testified that Musk “does not have unique personal knowledge, and the judge agreed.
The Banner family said that Tesla had callous disregard because a similar accident at a traffic crossing in 2016 killed another Florida man who was using Autopilot.
They didn’t fix the Autopilot issue, which they claim can shut down in dangerous circumstances despite Tesla’s assurances that the technology is safe.
Tesla’s lawyers said the company has been forthcoming about Autopilot’s limitations, including the possibility that the Tesla won’t detect traffic crossing in front of its cars. The company says they warn drivers that they must be alert at all times, which seems to fly in the face of the term “Autopiloting.”
Plaintiffs feel that Musk’s deposition is vital because only he can answer the question of why Tesla would “allow this dangerous technology to be used on a roadway where the car knows it’s going to fail.”
At the hearing, Lytal, the plaintiff’s attorney, said that Tesla engineers couldn’t answer why the company ignored government safety regulators who urged Tesla to stop marketing Autopilot as a technology “with full self-driving capability when it wasn’t.”
Musk has “unique personal knowledge about this,” Lytal said. “That’s why we need to depose him. Nobody else can answer this question.”
Musk said in a declaration that he” lacks such knowledge.”
Keyser, the judge presiding over the case, said her ruling was based on the “extensive depositions” by Tesla engineers and a written declaration submitted by Musk.