A civil lawsuit has been filed accusing Tesla and a service manager at one of its stores of negligence stemming from a fiery crash that killed a 20-year-old man, Reuters reports.
Nicholas Garcia and a passenger, Jazmin Alcala, died in a crash on September 13th, 2021, while driving in his 2021 Model 3 after its underbody struck the road’s surface as it drove through an intersection near his home in Coral Gables, Florida. The car quickly went out of control, left the road, and struck two trees before it was engulfed in flames.
In the lawsuit (included below, via PlainSite), a lawyer for Garcia’s family argues the sedan’s suspension failed, causing the bottom to hit the road and igniting the batteries, and leading to sparks shooting out of the car before it veered off the road. It also claims Garcia brought his vehicle to a Tesla store to get service for issues including problems with its steering and suspension just four days before the accident. It claims the service manager is responsible for negligently inspecting the car and that Tesla is responsible for its designs, as well as failing to safely assemble the vehicle.
A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report says records from the car’s event data recorder (EDR) indicate the car traveled at up to 90 mph in the five seconds prior to the crash, and the driver never pressed the brakes.
Video of the crash taken by the dash-mounted camera of another car is viewable in a media report from WPLG Local 10. In it, the car is seen driving through the intersection, with sparks appearing as its body hits the road’s surface before it crashes. WPLG also included a police report on the incident, which says the vehicle hit a hump in the road while going through the intersection, with the driver accelerating to beat a changing stoplight.
Reuters notes that in October, Tesla recalled 2,791 vehicles because of a front suspension lateral link that may not have been secured properly during manufacturing. Unlike several recent Tesla recalls that addressed software issues and were frequently dealt with through an over-the-air update, this recall covered certain Model Ys built between March 2021 and June 2021 and certain Model 3s built between January 2019 and April 2021.
Whether Garcia’s Tesla was among those recalled is not mentioned in the lawsuit, nor is the recall itself. An amended report on the recall submitted on December 15th says Tesla recorded 133 warranty claims and 104 field reports received between October 14th, 2018, and September 15th, 2021 that could be related, but no injuries, deaths, or accidents.