The parents of a Florida teen killed when a Tesla sedan was involved in a fiery crash last year are suing the automaker alleging that the battery pack on its electric Model S is defective and could erupt into intense, lethal fires. According to a news report in The Associated Press, Edgar and Esperanza Monserratt allege in a lawsuit filed in Borward County Circuit Court in Florida that the car’s battery was inadequately protected, making the entire vehicle defective.
Battery Ignited and Continued to Burn
Their 18-year-old son, Edgar Monserratt Martinez, was a front-seat passenger in the May 8, 2018 crash in Fort Lauderdale that also killed the driver, Barrett Riley, also 18 years old. Another teen was ejected from the vehicle and injured. The complaint states that the Tesla S sedan did not have adequate safeguards to contain a fire. It also alleges that Riley’s parents had a device installed on the 2014 Tesla that limited its speed to 85 mph after he was ticketed in March for driving 112 mph. That device was installed at a Tesla service center but removed during a subsequent service visit without the parents’ knowledge, according to the lawsuit.
An investigative report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says the Model S was traveling at 116 mph three seconds before it crashed into a wall and only slowed down to 86 mph as the airbags inflated. The car missed a curve with a 25 mph speed limit and hit the wall twice before it erupted into flames. Tesla has said in a statement that “no car could have withstood a high-speed crash of this kind.”
The Tesla’s lithium-ion battery reignited twice after firefighters extinguished the flames, again as the car was being loaded for removal from the scene and once more in a storage yard. Batteries used by Tesla and other electric cars can catch fire and burn quickly in a crash.
Auto Product Liability Issues
Automakers have a responsibility to manufacture vehicles that are “crashworthy.” In other words, vehicle manufacturers must make automobiles that have the ability to reasonably withstand the impact of the crash and protect vehicle occupants. In this case, the question is whether Tesla did its due diligence in manufacturing a battery that is safe in the event of a crash. We hope this family that has already lost so much gets the justice and compensation they deserve.