A tragic fatal accident that happened last year in a Tesla Model S is coming back to haunt the automaker as the family of one of the deceased passengers is suing Tesla over what they claim was a defective battery pack catching on fire and leading to the fatality.

In May of last year, two Fort Lauderdale teens were killed and a third was injured after the Tesla Model S driven by 18-year-old Barrett Riley crashed into a concrete wall at 116 mph.

The vehicle quickly caught on fire after the crash.

Now, Reuters reports that Chicago law firm Corboy & Demetrio is representing the estate of Edgar Monserratt Martinez, the passenger killed in the crash, in a lawsuit against Tesla.

In the lawsuit, they claim that a defective battery pack led to the fire and that Tesla “failed to warn purchasers of its vehicles of the battery’s dangerous condition.”

Furthermore, they say that Riley’s parents had a speed limiter installed at a Tesla service center two months before the accident, but Riley apparently had it removed at another service center without his parent’s knowledge.

Following the accident, Tesla released a new speed limiting feature in a software updated dedicated to Riley.

Tesla released the following statement about the claims made in the lawsuits:

“Our thoughts continue to be with the families affected by this tragedy. Unfortunately, no car could have withstood a high-speed crash of this kind. Tesla’s Speed Limit Mode, which allows Tesla owners to limit their car’s speed and acceleration, was introduced as an over-the-air update last year in dedication to our customer’s son, Barrett Riley, who tragically passed away in the accident.”

Electrek’s Take

I’m not blaming the parents for filing this lawsuit since it’s hard to think straight when you are grieving, but I don’t think there’s any evidence of a defective battery pack.

When you crash into a concrete wall at 116 mph, the most likely outcome is death. I think any other car could have also caught on fire, electric or not.

As for the removal of the speed limiter, I admit that it sounds weird. The parents were the owner of the vehicle. I don’t know how the kid could have made Tesla remove it himself, but we don’t have all the information.


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