Florida Jury Awards $10.5M in Case of Teens Killed in Horrific Tesla Fireball
A Florida jury has awarded the families of two teens killed in a fiery Tesla crash $10.5 million. The lawsuit claimed that the teens survived the car crash but were killed when the Tesla’s batteries caught on fire. The father of one teen also claimed Elon Musk’s company removed a speed limiter from the car without his permission.
NBC News reports that a federal jury in Florida has found Tesla partially negligent in a 2018 crash that killed two teens and also found one of the teens 90 percent responsible for his role in the collision.
James Riley, the father of one of the teens, alleged that Tesla was responsible for the death of his son, 18-year-old Barrett Riley, as batteries installed in the 2014 Model S sedan that the teen was driving ignited after the electric car crashed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, while traveling at almost 100 mph over the posted speed limit.
Riley stated that Barrett and the other crash victim, 18-year-old Edgar Monserratt Martinez, survived the initial collision but died after the car caught fire. Riley also claimed that a Tesla technician had — without his approval — removed a speed limiter installed on the car.
Tesla alleged that the speed limiter could not have prevented the crash at the speed that the teens were traveling and that Riley failed to establish that the car’s battery was defective. The jury ruled that the majority of the blame for the crash was on Barrett, who was allegedly driving at 116 mph into a 25-mph curve before the crash.
Barrett had a history of speeding and was ticketed just two months before the crash for traveling at 112 mph. Ninety percent of the blame was placed on Barrett Riley, the driver, nine percent was placed on his father James Riley, while just one percent was placed on Tesla. The jury awarded Riley $10.5 million in damages.
An attorney for the Rileys said: “We are pleased that, in what we understand to be the first case to go to trial against Tesla involving an accident involving one of their vehicles, the jury found Tesla to have been negligent in removing the speed limiter without letting Mr. or Mrs. Riley know.”