— A Tesla Model S negligence and product liability lawsuit has been filed over the death of 18-year-old Edgar Monserratt Martinez, one of two teens killed in a violent Florida crash.
According to the lawsuit, the Model S battery pack was defective and prevented the resulting fire from being extinguished in a timely manner.
The lawsuit, filed by the estate of Edgar Monserratt Martinez, also alleges Tesla removed a speed limiter from the car that allowed it to exceed speeds over 85 mph.
The car was driven by 18-year-old Barrett Riley, with Martinez in the front passenger seat and 18-year-old Alexander Berry riding in the rear. Both Riley and Martinez was killed, but Berry survived after he was ejected from the car.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the crash of the 2014 Model S and found the car had been going 116 mph in a 30 mph zone just seconds before the crash.
The Model S entered the left lane to pass another vehicle but lost control as the driver switched to the right lane. The car hit a curb, crossed a sidewalk, hit the front of a house and finally slammed into a wall and caught fire.
Data from the car showed it was traveling 108 mph two second before impact when the driver hit the brakes and changed the angle of steering. Stability control and the airbags activated as the Model S hit the wall at 86 mph.
Barrett Riley's family said he had recently been ticketed after driving 112 mph in a 50 mph zone, so his father allegedly had Tesla install a limiter to prevent the car from exceeding 85 mph. But according to the Martinez lawsuit, the limiter was removed at another Tesla service visit without Riley’s parents’ knowledge.
The plaintiff claims this makes Tesla negligent for the removal of the limiter.
Attorneys for the plaintiff also claim the Model S battery was prone to intense fires that couldn't be quickly extinguished, something the automaker should have warned customers about.
According to the lawsuit, the entire car was defective because the battery wasn't adequately shielded and protected. Additionally, there were allegedly inadequate measures in place to prevent and contain post-collision fires.
Tesla says the Model S is an extremely safe car but that no vehicle could have withstood a high-speed crash like the one that killed the teens.
The Tesla Model S lawsuit was filed in 17th Judicial Circuit Court for Broward County - Edgar Monserratt, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Edgar Monserratt Martinez, v. Tesla, Inc. a/k/a Tesla Florida, Inc.