Tesla Hit with Class Action Over Alleged Sudden Braking Defect in Model 3, Model Y Vehicles
Alvarez Toledo v. Tesla, Inc.
Filed: August 26, 2022 ◆§ 3:22-cv-04908
A class action alleges the autopilot and automatic emergency braking systems in 2021 and 2022 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles are defective in that they can engage “randomly and unexpectedly."
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act California Unfair Competition Law California Consumers Legal Remedies Act Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act
A proposed class action alleges the autopilot and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems in 2021 and 2022 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles are defective in that they can engage “randomly and unexpectedly,” when no safety hazard is present.
The 61-page complaint alleges the automaker rushed its much-touted autopilot and AEB systems to market when the technology “is not yet ready and not yet safe.” The case claims that the Tesla “phantom braking” defect has turned an apparent safety feature “into a frightening and dangerous nightmare.”
“Simply put, as a result of the Defect, the Autopilot and AEB systems at issue here are a safety hazard, not a safety feature,” the suit alleges.
Tesla’s standard autopilot system uses a camera to monitor the vehicle and surrounding objects, and the AEB system is designed to detect objects that the car may hit and apply the brakes accordingly, the case explains. The alleged defect can cause an affected Model 3 or Model Y to trigger the brakes and abruptly decelerate, or stop completely, despite there existing no safety hazard or object near the vehicle, the lawsuit says.
As a result, affected Tesla models are “unreasonably dangerous” given the apparent defect can impair a driver’s ability to control and maintain vehicle speed under normal driving conditions based on traffic flow.
“Tesla touting the safety and reliability of the Class Vehicles and the Autopilot system while knowing of the Sudden Unintended Braking Defect and the Autopilot and AEB systems’ gross underperformance is unfair and unconscionable,” the lawsuit alleges.
According to the filing, Tesla has known of the autopilot and AEB issues “for years” but has been mum on the subject. The case posits that Tesla is aware that disclosing the problems would put the company at a competitive disadvantage and harm its brand and profits.
“Instead, Tesla markets its vehicles as safe, despite its knowledge that the vehicles are defective and not fit for their intended purpose of providing consumers with safe and reliable transportation at the time of the sale and thereafter,” the case states, alleging the automaker has “actively concealed the true nature and extent” of the sudden braking defect.
The case relays that Tesla has neither recalled affected Model 3 and Model Y vehicles nor offered a suitable repair or replacement to drivers free of charge. The automaker also has not offered to reimburse drivers for “the value consumers paid for the Autopilot AEB features in the first place,” the suit claims.
“Because the Sudden Unintended Braking Defect was present at the time of sale or lease of the Class Vehicles, Tesla is required to repair or replace the Class Vehicles pursuant to the terms of the warranty,” the case asserts. “Instead, Tesla has wrongfully shifted the cost of repairing the Defect, or replacing the vehicle, to Plaintiff and the other Class members. These costs are significant, and no reasonable consumer expects to incur such costs.”
Per the complaint, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has fielded hundreds of complaints from Tesla drivers in the last three years. In February, the NHTSA revealed that it was looking into the phantom braking issue, and the agency expanded its investigation in June.
According to the suit, the NHTSA received between May 2021 and February 2022 more than 350 complaints centered on unexpected brake activation plaguing 2021-2022 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.
The lawsuit looks to represent all persons or entities in the United States who bought, lease, leased, own or owned a 2021 or 2022 Tesla Model 3 or Model Y vehicle that suffers from the alleged sudden, unintended brake defect.
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