- A California jury found Tesla’s Autopilot function did not cause a 2019 crash that killed a driver.
- Micah Lee’s wife and son were seriously injured and sued Elon Musk’s EV maker for $400 million-plus.
- The outcome is the second such win for Tesla this year in California.
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Tesla’s Autopilot feature was not responsible for a 2019 crash that killed a driver and left two passengers seriously injured, a California jury ruled.
Micah Lee’s wife and son claimed in a civil lawsuit that Tesla’s Autopilot system malfunctioned and caused the Model 3 to veer off the road at 65 miles an hour in Riverside County, California, before striking a tree and bursting into flames. They had sought more than $400 million in damages, outlets including Arstechnica reported.
Tesla denied its software was to blame and argued that the driver had consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel. The EV maker also questioned whether Autopilot was in use at the time of the crash.
After four days of deliberations, the jury voted 9-3 on Tuesday that the vehicle did not have a manufacturing defect, Reuters reported.
Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina law professor, told the news agency the decision showed juries continued to hold the driver responsible rather than software.
“Our juries are still really focused on the idea of a human in the driver’s seat being where the buck stops,” he said.
Autopilot is Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance system that relies on a number of cameras to “see” surrounding traffic and take over some driving tasks.
The company’s also developed a more sophisticated Full Self-Driving software that allows vehicles to automatically change lanes, enter and exit highways, recognize stop signs and traffic lights, and park.
However, the software has triggered a number of lawsuits including an ongoing case regarding another fatal crash in 2018.
This summer, the Washington Post reported that since 2019 there had been 736 crashes involving Tesla’s driver-assistance technology – more than had previously been known.
The EV maker also remains under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for crashes involving Teslas, and the Department of Justice over claims that its vehicles are self-driving.
Tesla did not immediately reply to a request for comment from Insider.