Family Of Teen Killed In 116mph Model S Crash, Suing Tesla For Negligence

Tesla has found itself in legal trouble once again as the family of a Florida teenager has sued the automaker for negligence resulting in their son’s death.

According to suit, noticed by Arstechnica, 18-year-old Edgar Monserratt was riding in the front passenger seat of a 2014 Tesla Model S driven by Barrett Riley in Fort Lauderdale on May 8th, 2018.

The lawsuit goes onto say Riley lost control of the vehicle while traveling at speeds in excess of 116 mph (186 km/h). The car then hit a wall before bouncing back across the roadway and then hitting a light pole. The vehicle then caught on fire and both Riley and Monserratt were killed.

While this sounds like a simple case of driver responsibility, the lawsuit alleges that Riley was ticketed for going 112 mph (180 km/h) on March 3rd. As a result, his parents had Tesla install a limiter on the vehicle which would prevent the Model S from traveling at speeds in excess of 85 mph (136 km/h).

Less than month after the speed limiter was installed, the Model S was serviced at Tesla Bahia Beach. During the service, the limiter was allegedly “improperly removed” and Riley’s parents weren’t informed about this.

The lawsuit contends that if the speed limited hadn’t have been removed, “the vehicle would not have exceeded 85 mph (136 km/h) and Barret Riley would not have lost control” resulting in the death of Monserratt.

Monserratt’s family is seeking more than $15,000 (£11,722 / €12,990) for their son’s death as they want Tesla and the service technician to pay for funeral and burial expenses, pain and suffering as well as the lost income that Monserratt would have accumulated during his life. While there’s no word on how much that would be, the lawsuit appears to be asking for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

The lawsuit goes onto allege that the Model S was not crashworthy and had batteries which were “inherently unstable and subject to explosion and spontaneous fire.”  The latter claim is likely a reference to the fact that the battery pack reignited twice after fire fighters initially extinguished the blaze.

In a statement to Arstechnica, Tesla said “Our thoughts continue to be with the families affected by this tragedy.” However, the company added “Unfortunately, no car could have withstood a high-speed crash of this kind.”

 

  • Matteo Tommasi

    The speed limiter removal is on whoever serviced the car, I think.

    • Jason Miller

      Could have been removed in an over-the-air update for the car and nobody would have known about it.

  • Adilos Nave

    Does anyone ever, EVER take responsibility for their own actions these days? This is a BS lawsuit if I’ve ever heard one. My condolences to the family but their son made extremely poor decisions and ultimately paid the price. It wasn’t Tesla’s fault in the slightest.

    • Matthijs

      Same as the family of Paul Walker.. its not the cars fault, it was the owner/driver’s fault. The US really has a lot of crazy thinking people out there

      • GobbleUp

        Agree, but Porsche paid a lot to settle the bs lawsuit.
        Driver also passed away.
        Widowed wife took up with the lawyer.

        Hmmm…

      • TheBelltower

        When you lose a family member in this way, people don’t think straight. They often start to demonize anyone they can in an attempt to find some sort of closure and meaning behind it all. Tesla is in the news every day, and Elon’s businesses are all booming… while their son is gone. I’m sure that this is torturing them. Still, this suit has no merit.

        • Matthijs

          Of course it’s horrible. But crashes happen everywhere but its just in the US where they always sue with these ridicilous demands of millions..

    • PhilMcGraw

      Well I wouldn’t go so far as to say their son made an extremely poor choice. It depends on if he knew the driver of the vehicle was reckless or not. I sometimes ride with friends who I assume are safe drivers but turns out that after one trip in the passenger side I end up telling myself “never again”. But I agree it wouldn’t have been Tesla’s fault.

      Alternatively, I wonder why the parents aren’t trying to go after the family of the driver considering the article implies it was the parents vehicle (since they told Tesla to install the limiter). I was always told that if you lend a vehicle to someone and they get into an accident then the liability falls back on the owner of the vehicle if it exceeds the coverage of the vehicle’s insurance.

  • kimbentsen

    Why did he not loose the license the first time?

    • Dude

      In my state at least, you only lose your license if you’ve already been ticketed for aggressive/reckless driving in the last 12 months. If that was his first offence he could’ve gotten away with a fine.

  • salamOOn

    “if the speed limited hadn’t have been removed, “the vehicle would not have exceeded 85 mph (136 km/h) and Barret Riley would not have lost control”

    so they can see the future? or alternative universe?

  • Adam

    If the parents teach their son not to drive like a f wit, there wouldn’t be a crash at all. So, shouldn’t they sue themselves for negligence.

    • Liam Paul

      yes but it was not their son, it was a Barrett Riley who was driving, I think they should sue the parents of Barrett Riley who could afford to buy their son such a expensive car and still allow their son to drive it knowing how dangerous he drove it before.

  • Liam Paul

    The ones responsible are the parents of Barrett Riley who brought their son such a expensive car. Kids do not need a Tesla, it’s absurd that any parent would buy their children such a car. the parents of 18-year-old Edgar Monserratt should sue the other boys parents esp after the other boy already drove that car 115 mph. clearly Barrett Riley is not responsible enough since his parents had a speed limiter put on his car, what they should had done, was sold the Tesla and put him on a bicycle. Thank god he didnt kill anyone else

    • Jay

      It’s not just the price of the car. You can do this speed in just about any car on the road. I’m not going to sue Infiniti because my sons car is capable of doing 140mph and did so and it caused his death. This is ridiculous. My son should’ve known right from wrong simple as that. Also crashing at that speed in any car could cause an explosion so I really don’t think that part is going anywhere either. Throw the entire case out.

    • Merc1

      Bingo!

      M

  • Axel Cortez

    I see many comments saying such an expensive car bla bla bla any modern car will do 100-120mph and by modern I mean a corolla from 1994.

    • You are right, but a 94′ Corolla will not hit 100mph in a residential area. That would need hell a lot of space (highway) to hit such speeds. The dangerous thing about Tesla for stupid teens is that it will hit these speeds in a blink of an eye. You don’t need a minute to get to those speeds, you just need a couple of seconds.

      • Knotmyrealname

        …and they’ll only hit those speeds if the car was set up for it. His was disabled, but then he had it overridden.

        • Doesn’t matter, even a 50kph accident can lead to death (especially if not using the seat belt). This is a spoiled kids case with stupid irresponsible parents.

  • Zandit75

    Ridiculous claims, especially about the lost income of the teen that was killed. Why would the family be looking to benefit from that? I’ve worked the majority of my life, and my parents have not received anything apart from what was owed to them in loans, or board/rent etc. I don’t understand the logic of this entire event at all.

    • Bo Hanan

      I wish the car makers could sue the families for defamation of character in these situations. But our snowflake of a country sides with the family (right/wrong) everytime.

  • Dude

    I’d say this is a pretty frivolous lawsuit and I’m pretty sure Tesla has already defeated lawsuits over the Model S’s safety. The speed limiter allegedly being removed without consent sounds interesting at first, but blame for going that speed still rests with the driver. Most cars can do 120mph, and most cars aren’t going to protect the driver if they’re going that speed.

  • brn

    The most blatantly absurd part is that they want any income that the kid might have earned if he had lived. Since when do the parents receive the income of their children?

    • PhilMcGraw

      In the case of a wrongful death, parents can justify in court that their child would have made a certain amount of future income. It happens a lot, but it has to be something that has to have REASONABLE assumptions with some proven evidence.

      For example, there was a case in which an 8 year old boy died and the parents tried to claim that their son would have had a future income of at least $50,000. They were able to argue it based on the fact that the father owned a textile business that he would have passed on to his child. The judge was able to say that it was reasonable to assume that the child would have inherited this business and made the minimal $50,000 based on the $14,000/year the father took home for work. In this case, it’s dependent on whether he was already working or not. If he wasn’t working then you can’t assume whether or not he would have had a job or what he could have expected to make.

      • brn

        I guess there’s a lot we don’t know about what kind of working relationship there may have been.

  • Hot Twink

    A life lost is never a good thing. However, this is not Tesla’s fault.

    I can’t stand Tesla (because of Elon), but suing them over the accident is wrong. Those teens should not have been doing 116 mph in a car anyway. The parents are just as much to blame. Perhaps they are heartbroken and just out place blame and make some sense out of this. Whatever the reason, this isn’t the way to do it.

  • SORRY BUT I DON’T BUY IT. I DON’T KNOW WHY ANY KIND OF LIMITER WAS INSTALLED. TESLA HAS VALET SETTING THAT YOU CAN LOCK THE TRUNK AND LIMIT THE TOP SPEED. IF THE KID WAS TICKETED GOING 112 MPH HE SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO DRIVE THE CAR. HITTING A WALL AT85 MPH WOULD HAVE KILLED THEM TOO.

    • David

      Killed at impact without fire doing 85, now doing 116 mph…not a chance.

  • YEAH THAT’S ABOUT IT.

  • ErnieB

    And if you can afford a Tesla you sure as hell can afford a funeral..

    • steve

      It’s the parents of the passenger suing – not the car owners.

  • K03sport

    Please see the lawsuit of Walker Family Vs Porsche (Paul, may you rest in peace brother). Sad to say, the Monserratt family is on a money grab. It is sad they son has died at the hands of a friend and that friend’s negligence caused both of them to lose their lives this early in their lives. The driver showed extreme negligence only days prior and I am surprised his license wasn’t suspended (least amount over speed limit could be 42mph in a 70 zone). The crash scene in the video shows a residential area; why would the driver need to be doing 116mph? Again, extreme negligence on the driver’s part. If anything, the Monserratt family needs to sue the family of Barrett Riley as he caused the death through reckless driving, not Tesla. Unless the parents can prove their son was alive prior to the car’s batteries catching fire, and that the battery fire caused their son’s death, the case should be dismissed. We know this won’t happen, and it will proceed as Tesla will have to prove their car performed as designed and that an accident at these speeds is what caused the death, not the battery, not the car, not the dealer/tech that removed the limiter. The affluence defense (See Ft Worth teen DUI case) should not be allowed as a haven for Barrett Riley to have been allowed to drive or drive at the speeds he did. Parenting, a lost art.

    • Krisnadi Imam

      much agree on that. we need smarter ppl, not smarter cat

  • TheBelltower

    I wasn’t aware that Tesla offered a limiter like the one described here prior to the app update that allows owners to adjust the maximum speed from their phone. Regardless, the need for the parents to install a custom limiter shows that the kid was too irresponsible to drive a car that can go 0-60 at the speed of a lightswitch. The parents of the driver are the ones legally responsible because they knew his driving history. And they allowed him to use their car anyway. This suit will go nowhere.

    • TheBelltower

      Found this on another site….
      “Riley’s parents had a speed limiter installed at a Tesla service center two months before the accident, but Riley apparently had it removed at another service center without his parent’s knowledge.”

      • YOU OWN A TESLA RIGHT?
        DOESN’T THE VALET MODE ALLOW LIMITING THE TOP SPEED? NOTHING NEEDS TO BE “INSTALLED” IT’S UP TO THE OWNER TO SET THE LIMIT AND USE A PIN.

        • TheBelltower

          Tesla pushed an over the air update with this feature. It can be adjusted through the app. But I believe it was after this accident.

          • BUT THERE WAS ALWAYS VALET MODE PARENT WHO DON’T TRUST THEIR KIDS CAN USE RIGHT?

          • TheBelltower

            The valet mode limits the speed, and also the infotainment and a bunch of other features, locks the trunk, trunk and (I think) the electric latch to the glove box. It wouldn’t be used to just limit the speed of a kid. The summer update did though.

      • brn

        If Riley had it removed, closed case. He’s a legal adult. Was the service center supposed to refuse the request?

  • Shane

    Put the parents in a free Tesla and crash it on purpose with locked doors.

  • Maisch

    Sorry guys, but the legal system in the states is absolutely nuts, im glad i dont have a buisness in a country where poeple arent expected to even drink a cup of coffee..

  • Knotmyrealname

    Let me get this straight: the idiot was reckless, then the parents try to limit his stupidity by putting a limiter on the car that he then takes off, then does the same thing again, but pays the ultimate price. And they want Tesla to front up for this? The most laughable thing is to pay for his employment earnings. What, with that mentality, would that be? A cleaner? And with respect to his earnings, what dibs to the parents have on that? His earnings would have been his earnings. They went off to another existence with him.

  • Trackhacker

    Clearly the issue here is that the 18yr should of been driving the Nissna Leaf. Not a Tesla which is way too fast for a new driver. Speaking of which, this is the issue with a lot of future EV’s. They are way too fast for normal drivers who don’t know how to drive there 115hp cars currently.

    • ace_9

      So… in your mind people having 115 hp cars are suddenly going to buy a 600+ hp electric vehicle? 😀 Electric cars are NOT too fast in general, like you said.

  • wait a minute

    and the city should sued for putting a light pole there.

    • TheHake

      Faraday’s family should be sued for his invention of the electric motor.

  • I actually think there is a case here,

    all dependent on the guarantee Tesla issued on the effectiveness of the limiter and the impact of removing it.

    Maybe had the limiter worked even if the accident still happened the outcome could have been less.

    • brn

      Below, another poster (TheBeltower) quotes from another site that says the kid, a legal adult, was the one that had it removed. If that’s true, there is no case.

  • Althea Later

    Eff the kid and his parents

  • Keys D

    This!

  • RIGHT? HIT A WALL AT 85 MPH IS STILL GONNA HURT.

  • Put a stupid fast toy in your kid’s hand, be surprised he used it, then blame the company making the dangerous toy.

    • drc

      Yes, Put me on that jury, please.

  • BlackPegasus

    Rich people problems 🙄

  • Jan Mleziva

    Aha, so the parents think that going 85 MPH in residential zone (as depicted) would be OK and hitting a wall in 85 would be absolutely safe.

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