SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The family of the man killed in a crash in Santa Clara County is calling out Tesla with a new lawsuit filed Wednesday, claiming the company is beta testing technology on California roadways.

The family of the man who died riding in his Tesla that was on autopilot last year is filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

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The lawsuit is being filed against not only Tesla, but possibly its subcontractors who helped with the design and construction of the Model X’s autopilot system.


Walter Huang’s Tesla was left a smoldering wreck after it crashed into a barrier on Highway 101 in Mountain View in March of last year. Huang was killed. The 2017 Model X was on autopilot at the time of the collision.

His wife Sevonne Huang told KPIX it was his dream car.

“It’s his birthday gift I gave him,” she said.

The family believes the autopilot feature is defective and likely caused Huang’s death.

“It took him out of his lane of safety, pointed him at a fixed concrete barrier and accelerated almost ten miles an hour in three seconds,” said the family’s attorney Mark Fong.

Family members say he complained about his Tesla veering into the same barrier at the exact location of the crash and that he brought his car into the dealership several times to report a problem with the autopilot function.

The grounds for the suit are defective product design and intentional misrepresentation.

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In a statement released shortly after the crash, the company said, “No action had been taken by the driver, who had a five-second view of the concrete divider. The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision.”

“Trying to put the onus on Mr. Huang to suggest that he should figure out what Tesla’s job really is, is really unfair,” said attorney Doris Cheng.

The family is also suing California, saying the highway median was missing its crash guard, which might have prevented Huang’s death.

His family is suing for unspecified monetary damages.

“I just don’t want this to happen to other families. That’s it,” said Huang’s wife.

The NTSB has yet to release the results of its investigation into the fatal collision. A Tesla spokesperson declined to comment.

There are several other complaints and lawsuits by other Tesla drivers of navigational errors by the autopilot.

Autopilot is one of the most popular feature on Tesla cars. It takes over the steering and braking, lane changes and speed.

Last year, a Tesla on Autopilot kept driving all by itself when the driver fell asleep. CHP cars boxed it in and slowed it to a stop. The driver was arrested after he failed a field sobriety test.

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