A jury in Florida has determined that Tesla bears some responsibility for a high-speed, fiery crash that killed two teenagers in 2018. Barrett Riley and his friend Edgar Monserrat Martinez were killed when Riley crashed into a concrete wall after losing control while traveling at 116 mph in a 30 mph zone. A third passenger in the backseat was ejected from the vehicle but survived.
James Riley, Barrett’s father, filed a lawsuit against Tesla, arguing that the automaker was at fault for the death of Martinez and his son. He claimed that the crash was “entirely survivable” and that they died as a result of the ensuing fire, which was caused by the car’s lithium-ion battery.
He also blamed Tesla mechanics for removing a speed limiting device without his permission. He claimed that his son asked them to remove the device, which was installed because Barrett had a history of speeding and reckless driving during routine maintenance on the car about a month before the crash.
While a judge dismissed the claim that the battery in the car was defective, a jury did find that Tesla was one percent negligent for the crash. They said that Barrett was 90% negligent and his father was 9% negligent. The jury recommended awarding Barrett’s mother $6 million and $4.5 million to his father.
Because the jury would that Tesla is just one percent negligent, the automaker is only liable to pay the family $105,000.