— The driver of a 2017 Tesla Model S has filed a lawsuit against the automaker after the car slammed into a stalled vehicle at 80 mph on the Florida Turnpike.
Although the driver admits he had been looking at his phone during the trip, he claims the car should have avoided the stalled vehicle because the Model S had Autopilot activated.
Plaintiff Shawn Hudson says he was traveling southbound on the morning of October 12, 2018, while "relaxing during his commute" and not paying attention to the disabled vehicle stalled in his lane.
Hudson says he wouldn't have been injured if Autopilot worked as promised by the salesman and Hudson wouldn't have purchased the car if he would have known about the allegedly faulty system.
According to the lawsuit, Hudson was told by sales staff that he could purchase the Model S with an Autopilot upgrade that "will allow the vehicle to drive itself from one point to another with minimal user input or oversight."
The lawsuit says the Autopilot system doesn't function as advertised by Tesla and is too dangerous to operate on the road. Hudson says the system cannot reliably detect stationary objects, something that creates a risk of injury or death.
The lawsuit doesn't mention if the plaintiff ever looked at the owner's manual, but the manual for the 2017 Model S describes the dangers of not keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
The owner's manual lists numerous conditions that could cause driver assistance features to malfunction, which is why the manual says, "It is the driver's responsibility to stay alert, drive safely, and be in control of the vehicle at all times."
In addition, each driver assistance feature described in the manual provides warnings about the systems.
"Autosteer is a hands-on feature. You must keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times."
"Warning: Forward Collision Warning is for guidance purposes only and is not a substitute for attentive driving and sound judgment. Keep your eyes on the road when driving and never depend on Forward Collision Warning to warn you of a potential collision. Depending on Forward Collision Warning to warn you of a potential collision can result in serious injury or death."
"Warning: Automatic Emergency Braking is not designed to prevent a collision. At best, it can minimize the impact of a frontal collision by attempting to reduce your driving speed. Depending on Automatic Emergency Braking to avoid a collision can result in serious injury or death."
According to the plaintiff, Tesla’s advertisements led him to believe that a Tesla vehicle equipped with Autopilot might be the solution to his commute to work. According to Florida media reports, Hudson was on his way to work as general manager of a Nissan dealership when the crash occurred.
The lawsuit alleges when the plaintiff was shopping for a car, the Tesla sales representative described sensors and radars that allowed the car to "essentially drive itself." Hudson says he was also told about the "vehicle’s ability to brake by itself and automatically avoid roadway hazards so as to prevent a collision."
In addition, the plaintiff claims the sales rep told him, "in the event the vehicle detects a hazard, the autopilot system is designed to also alert passengers so that they could take control of the vehicle if necessary."
Hudson says he was impressed by the test drive with the sales representative, so he asked for and received a loaner car equipped with Autopilot. According to the plaintiff, he tested the car and Autopilot for a weekend and was sold on the idea of ordering a 2017 Model S.
Hudson says he paid an extra $5,000 for the Autopilot upgrade and drove the car more than 98,000 miles and used the system frequently. The plaintiff says his trust in the car and the Autopilot system increased over time, until the Model S slammed into the disabled vehicle.
A similar lawsuit was filed in September 2018 by a woman who was behind the wheel and looking at her phone when the Model S slammed into a stopped vehicle at 60 mph.
The Tesla Model S Autopilot lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit for Orange County, Florida - Shawn Hudson, v. Tesla, Inc, et al.
The plaintiff is represented by Morgan & Morgan, P.A.