On July 19, 2022 a Florida jury found electric car maker Tesla 1% negligent in the death of an 18-year-old man. The Model S sedan the 18 year-old was driving slammed into a concrete wall as a result of the car’s speed limiter being deactivated. The jury found the teenager and his father to be 99% at fault.

The July 19 verdict from the Fort Lauderdale Federal jury came in what lawyers for James and Jenny Riley, whose son Barrett died in the crash, called the first trial against Tesla over an accident involving its vehicles. Barrett Riley had been driving at 116 miles per hour on a curve with a posted 25 mph speed limit, on May 8, 2018, when he lost control of his 2014 Model S while trying to pass another vehicle. This loss of control causes a fire that led to the death of another passenger while a third occupant survived.

Riley’s parents said the crash occurred after a Tesla technician, without their knowledge, disabled a device that had been installed at their request and which capped the Model S’s speed at 85 mph. The jury found Tesla 1% negligent, Barrett Riley 90% negligent, James Riley 9% negligent and Jenny Riley not negligent in Barrett Riley’s death. The jury said James and Jenny Riley suffered a respective $4.5 million and $6 million in damages for pain and suffering, which the judge can reduce based on the negligence findings. Lawyers for Tesla did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment.

Tesla, headed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk,had said that Barrett Riley’s recklessness caused the crash and his parents should have taken away the keys after his March 2018 speeding ticket for driving at 112 mph. It also said Barrett Riley tricked the technician into disabling the speed limiter. The parents said a design defect in Tesla’s lithium-ion battery cells and battery pack contributed to the fire, but a judge on June 29 dismissed that claim.

In a statement, the Rileys’ lawyer Curtis Miner said they were pleased with the negligence finding, and hoped the case would help prevent other accidents and save lives. Tesla has faced a variety of lawsuits and regulatory probes over crashes tied to its Autopilot feature. That feature was not at issue in Barrett Riley’s crash, court records show.

The foundation of my law firm is integrity, honesty and compassion. I have over 20 years of experience helping Tucson families who are injured because of the careless and reckless acts of others. I help with serious injuries that require serious representation. I am a vigorous advocate for my clients, protect their rights and give them a voice in the court room. Call Tammy Carter Law 24/7/365 at 520-333-7737.