Appeals court agrees that Japan is better suited for lawsuit over fatal Tesla Model X crash.

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Tesla Gets Yoshihiro Umeda Case Out of U.S.
Appeals court agrees that Japan is better suited for lawsuit over fatal Tesla Model X crash.

— The family of Yoshihiro Umeda will have to argue their lawsuit against Tesla in Japan instead of a U.S. court following a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Yoshihiro Umeda, 44, was with a group of motorcyclists near Tokyo following a crash that involved one of the bikers. Umeda was standing on the Tomei Expressway when a Tesla Model X crashed into Mr. Umeda, vehicles and motorcycles.

The April 2018 crash killed Mr. Umeda, and Tesla Model X driver Nobuyuki Ito admitted he was drowsy and fell asleep at the wheel. A Japanese court convicted the Tesla driver of criminal negligence and sentenced Ito to three years in prison.

However, the family of Mr. Umeda sued Tesla because the Model X was on Autopilot at the time of the fatal crash.

The lawsuit was filed in California by the family of Mr. Umeda because they say the case is primarily a product liability lawsuit because Autopilot technology was created by Tesla in California. But Tesla has always argued the lawsuit is a wrongful death lawsuit, and most of the evidence exists in Japan.

Considering the Tesla Model X was sold in Japan, the involved citizens are from Japan and the crash occurred in Japan, a California judge dismissed the lawsuit based on "forum non conveniens."

Forum non conveniens says that a U.S. court can dismiss a case when another court may be better suited to hear the lawsuit.

Tesla agreed to face the case in Japan, but the California dismissal caused Mr. Umeda's family to appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

In its ruling, the appeals court agreed with the lower court ruling based on forum non conveniens.

"A district court does 'not act unreasonably in concluding that fewer evidentiary problems would be posed if the trial were held' in a foreign forum closer to '[a] large proportion of the relevant evidence.'"

The Ninth Circuit determined the district court reasonably found such circumstances exist in the case of Yoshihiro Umeda.

"Although 'relevant evidence is located in both California and Japan,' it observed, '[m]ost of the evidence identified by Plaintiffs concerns the design of Autopilot and is in the possession of Tesla,' such that Tesla could furnish it in a Japanese forum." — Appeals court

The Tesla Model X / Yoshihiro Umeda lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court For the Northern District of California, San Jose Division: Tomomi Umeda, v. Tesla, Inc, et, al.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Law Offices of Edward C. Chen, and ZeLo Japan.


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