Mechanized Tesla Model S Door Handles Are Defective, Class Action Alleges
Urban v. Tesla Inc.
Filed: December 6, 2022 ◆§ 5:22-cv-07703
A class action alleges 2014-2016 Tesla Model S vehicles are equipped with defective door handles that routinely fail after or within only a few years of normal use.
A proposed class action alleges 2014-2016 Tesla Model S vehicles are equipped with defective door handles that routinely fail after or within only a few years of normal use.
The 21-page suit out of California says the Tesla door handle defect poses a significant safety risk in that it prevents drivers and passengers from being able to enter a vehicle. According to the complaint, Tesla “knew or should have known” about the problem, especially during testing, as the Model S vehicles at issue—whose door handles, when not in use, are flush with the car’s doors and designed to automatically present themselves upon detecting an approaching person—provide no alternative method to open an affected door from the outside.
Want to stay in the loop on class actions that matter to you? Sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter here.
The filing claims the door handle defect began to manifest “soon after [Tesla] first started selling and leasing” the affected Model S vehicles to consumers.
“Nevertheless, and despite its duty to do so, Defendant did not and does not disclose the Defect to consumers,” the lawsuit states, alleging Tesla has “engaged in unfair, deceptive and misleading consumer practices.”
Tesla has touted the electric Model S as “the best car in its class in every category,” and represented that safety is a top concern for the company “even after a customer purchases their car.” The case alleges that despite Tesla’s lofty safety and performance representations, the company nevertheless sold Model S vehicles with defective door handles while failing to disclose the problem to the public.
Unlike most other vehicles, the door handles of a Model S are flush with the vehicle’s doors and designed to pop out and present themselves via a motorized mechanism when they detect an approaching person, the case relays. The suit stresses that a person can only open the door of a Tesla Model S when the door handle is outside of the vehicle.
As the suit tells it, however, the detection technology and/or motorized mechanism responsible for presenting the door handle has “a high propensity to stop working as intended and designed” after or within a few years of normal, day-to-day use. This poses a safety risk as drivers or passengers can potentially become locked out of their Model S, including during times of emergency.
According to the complaint, the Tesla door handle defect has been linked to at least one fatality. The lawsuit relays that in March 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and National Transportation Safety Board announced they were investigating a fatal Model S crash during which emergency responders were unable to reach the victim due to the vehicle’s door handles failing to present themselves while the car burned. According to a 2019 report from AutoBlog.com, first responders said they could not get the vehicle’s door handles to work “before the flames became too intense.” The 48-year-old driver in the crash was “burned … beyond recognition” after his 2016 Model S caught fire, the website said, citing the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Per the case, the internet is rife with complaints from Model S owners and lessees whose door handles have failed to present themselves and required service.
The lawsuit relays that Telsa, to date, has no solution to the problem “besides replacing the door handle with another defective door handle,” and continues to fail to mention the issue in its marketing and advertising of the Model S.
“Defendant’s omissions are clearly meant to mislead consumers as to the safety and performance of the Vehicles,” the suit alleges.
The case looks to cover all owners and lessees of a 2014-2016 Tesla Model S bought or leased in the United States.
Get class action lawsuit news sent to your inbox – sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter here.
Camp Lejeune residents now have the opportunity to claim compensation for harm suffered from contaminated water.
Read more here: Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Claims
Sign Up For
New cases and investigations, settlement deadlines, and news straight to your inbox.
Before commenting, please review our comment policy.