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Lawsuit claims design defects led to fatal 2016 Tesla crash

Tesla: Car going too fast for autopilot at time of crash
Posted at 8:15 PM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-25 20:15:24-04

OAKLAND, CALIF. — The widow of a passenger who died in a November 2016 crash filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against Tesla blaming a series of defects in the car for her husband's death.

Shelia McCarthy filed the lawsuit in Alameda Superior Court in Oakland Calif. claiming the 2015 Tesla Model S caused the car's driver, Casey Speakman, to lose control when it suddenly accelerated as she attempted to avoid an oncoming vehicle traveling the wrong way on a one-way street. Speakman, 27, and McCarthy's husband, Kevin McCarthy, 44, died in the crash.

The Tesla was heading north on Illinois Street near 16th Street on Nov. 3, 2016, when the car crashed into a tree and parking garage. The lawsuit says the vehicle accelerated from 10 mph to 70 mph in the seconds before it hit the curb due to "an un-commanded acceleration defect."

Witnesses observed Kevin McCarthy attempting to escape, but the lawsuit alleges he could not get out safely due to faulty door handles. Firefighters removed him from the vehicle after 20 minutes and he died at a local hospital from injuries suffered in the fire.

“He was killed because Tesla built and sold a car it knew was defective, and those known defects led to Kevin’s horrible, avoidable death,” attorney Elise Sanguinetti said in a release

The lawsuit also claims the Tesla Model S and Model X have had numerous complaints of fires related to the lithium ion batteries that power the cars. It alleges the fires have ignited spontaneously or when impacted, have been difficult to extinguish and have reignited after having been extinguished.

Kevin McCarthy was the president and CEO of Case Pacer and Speckman worked in case management software sales at the company.