— A Tesla Model X door latch lawsuit alleges a 5-year-old girl experienced "serious, traumatic, scarring, psychological, and personal injuries" when her finger was crushed and broken by a plastic latch that's part of the locking mechanism.
The California lawsuit was filed by Marlen Mesutovich Izzetov and his daughter, identified in the lawsuit as "Miss MMI," five years old when the incident occurred. According to court documents, Mr. Izzetov is a dual citizen of the Russian Federation and Ukraine and lives in Simferopol, Crimea.
The plaintiff purchased a Tesla Model X on December 7, 2017, from a car retailer in Prague, Czech Republic.
The self-described Tesla fan claims the SUV has a dangerous automatically retracting plastic latch that slides into the back edge of the metal door frame when the front door is opened. The latch is described as a hollow moving component made of metal with a hole in the middle large enough to fit a human finger.
The Tesla's front doors use electric motors so the doors can open and close with minimum effort, and when activated the doors partially open between 20 degrees and 45 degrees, “depending on obstacles detected by sensors.” The occupant can then manually open the door without assistance of the electric motor.
The plaintiff says when the front door operates correctly, the latch retracts into the locking mechanism and is safely contained within the back edge of the door frame prior to the door opening.
But the lawsuit alleges a malfunction can result in the latch being exposed on the back edge of the door frame and automatically retracting into the locking mechanism while the door is open.
The incident allegedly occurred in May 2018 when Mr. Izzetov entered the Tesla Model X through the front driver’s door as his wife prepared to enter the passenger front door. Miss MMI was standing next to her mother in front of the passenger door and pressed the passenger door handle that automatically opens the door.
The front passenger door opened to approximately 20 degrees and MMI proceeded to manually open the door by pulling the back edge of the front door frame towards her. The lawsuit says the locking mechanism and latch on the back edge of the door frame were at MMI’s hand height as she reached out to touch the door.
According to the plaintiff, the latch should be flush with the back edge of the door frame whenever the door is open, leaving it safely contained within the locking mechanism.
However, the latch allegedly failed to retract within the door frame and Miss MMI unintentionally placed her finger into the hollow space of the latch. The latch allegedly then automatically retracted into the locking mechanism, trapping her finger in the latch and embedding her finger inside the metal door frame.
The little girl allegedly screamed in pain as her finger was crushed in the locking mechanism and the automatic door closing mechanism repeatedly activated while MMI’s finger was still trapped in the latch. Mr. Izzetov and several bystanders allegedly had to forcibly hold open the front passenger door in order to prevent it from automatically closing and crushing MMI’s arm.
The plaintiff claims it took emergency services in Simferopol two hours to cut through the Model X door frame and locking mechanism in order to release the girl's finger.
Miss MMI was taken to the hospital where she was treated for a fracture of her third finger and received stitches.
The lawsuit alleges the girl has been "been left afraid to ride in the Tesla Model X and is scared of car doors in general."
Mr. Izzetov says defects in the malfunctioning locking mechanism and latch caused the girl's injuries, but Tesla has allegedly failed to acknowledge a problem.
“After such a thorough investigation by our technicians and discussions with our engineers, we have nevertheless reached the conclusion that your vehicle worked as designed and we therefore cannot take any responsibility for the incident.” - Tesla's response to plaintiff Izzetov
The plaintiff says he had no choice but to file the lawsuit because the automaker allegedly said the Model X would have to be inspected in San Francisco.
In addition, the SUV allegedly needed to be "preserved in the same post-incident condition and undriven while Tesla did nothing in response to several complaints by Mr. Izzetov—all transparent tactics designed to prevent the plaintiffs from seeking legal redress for the harm that they had suffered."
The Tesla Model X door latch lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California - Marlen Mesutovich Izzetov, v. Tesla, Inc.
The plaintiff is represented by Dan Tan Law.