Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Tesla Claims Design Defects in Model S Caused Man’s Death in Fiery Crash

June 25, 2019 – Oakland, CA – A lawsuit filed in Alameda Superior Court claims a series of defects in the 2015 Tesla Model S led to a fiery crash and the death of a beloved husband and father.

On November 3, 2016, Kevin McCarthy was the passenger in his Model S driving in downtown Indianapolis, IN. After watching a World Series game, the driver of the car lost control due to an un-commanded acceleration defect in the Model S, and while attempting to avoid an oncoming vehicle headed the wrong way on the one-way street, drove off the right side of the paved roadway and into a tree. Witnesses observed that the vehicle came to rest against the wall of an adjacent parking structure and a fire subsequently ensued, engulfing the vehicle. Mr. McCarthy was observed alive postimpact attempting to escape the vehicle. However, due to defects in the vehicle, he was unable to do so, causing him to literally burn alive and to inhale toxic gases. After almost twenty minutes, he was pulled from the vehicle by Indianapolis Fire Department and transported to an area hospital where he died due to the injuries he suffered during the post-impact fire.

“Kevin was a loving husband and father, a successful businessman and a pillar in his community,” said attorney Elise Sanguinetti, current president of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) and past-president of Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC). “He was killed because Tesla built and sold a car it knew was defective, and those known defects led to Kevin’s horrible, avoidable death.”

The wrongful death complaint lists several defects in the Tesla Model S, and states that the negligent and wrongful conduct of TESLA led to Kevin’s serious, catastrophic injuries, resulting in his death. Among the many defects listed in the complaint are:

  • The Tesla Model S (as well as the Model X) have numerous and frequent complaints of fires related to the unstable and inadequately protected lithium ion batteries. This has resulted in fires that have ignited spontaneously or when impacted, have been difficult to extinguish, and have frequently reignited after having been extinguished.
  • The Tesla Model S had faulty door handles which led to the entrapment of Kevin as well as hampered the efforts of others outside the vehicle to be able to free him.
  • Tesla vehicle owners have reported instances of un-commanded acceleration at a rate greater than that for Toyota vehicles which were the subject of a Federal investigation almost a decade ago.

As the complaint shows (on pages 22 and 24) this is not the only incident where a Tesla Model S caught fire and trapped occupants inside:

  • In Fort Lauderdale, FL, two teens were killed in 2018 when their Model S burst into flames, trapping them inside the burning vehicle.
  • In February of 2019, a doctor lost control of his 2016 Model S in Davie, FL, hit a tree and burst into flames. The driver was killed and his body burned beyond recognition. In this case, the car burst into flames several times on the way to the tow yard.

In fact, the complaint lists over 100 total instances from before and after the crash in regard to Tesla vehicles which burst into flames due to faulty batteries, suffered from un-commanded acceleration, had faulty door handles and/or some other defect.

The lawsuit alleges that the aforementioned defects created substantial dangers which were unknown to Kevin McCarthy and the public in general, and would not be recognized by the ordinary user, and Tesla failed to give adequate warning of such dangers.

The case is Stacey McCarthy v. Tesla, Alameda Superior Court.

To read the complaint: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eND0qRS-ooa7r37FCRQY2P3ia-dAxOEf/view

About Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos, LLP

With offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Montreal, ARIAS SANGUINETTI WANG & TORRIJOS, LLP represents clients in complex litigation in state and federal courts throughout the United States. Some of our practice areas include: Class Actions, Mass Torts, Major Personal Injury, Employment Law, Antitrust Litigation, Business & Commercial Litigation, Disability & Statutory Rights, Consumer Protection, Construction Defects, Disability Rights, Entertainment Litigation, Environmental/Toxic Torts, Professional Malpractice, Insurance Law, Telecommunications & Internet Litigation, Intellectual Property Rights and Unfair Business Practices. The firm also handles business transactional matters and has served as general business counsel.

About Donald H. Slavik

Don concentrates his practice in the areas of products liability, aviation accidents, consumer class actions, and other complex litigation around the United States and occasionally in foreign countries. For his work in this area, he has received awards from the American Association for Justice, the Attorneys Information Exchange Group and the Western Trial Lawyers Association. He’s been listed in Best Lawyers in America for 18 consecutive years. Don participated in many of the recent large national auto product defect cases, including Toyota sudden acceleration, GM ignition switches, Takata airbags and VW diesel fraud. He has testified before the Federal Rules Committee on multiple occasions and made presentations at the annual Automated Vehicles Symposium for the past several years.

Click on the links below to view press coverage:

The Recorder: https://www.law.com/therecorder/2019/06/26/woman-sues-tesla-for-husbands-death-after-reported-uncommanded-acceleration-in-model-s/

Yahoo! Finance: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/arias-sanguinetti-wang-torrijos-llp-010800711.html

Wish TV: https://www.wishtv.com/news/local-news/wife-of-passenger-in-fiery-tesla-crash-in-2016-files-wrongful-death-lawsuit/2098785683

Indianapolis Star: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/indianapolis/2019/06/25/lawsuit-tesla-defects-led-crash-killed-indianapolis-man/1561041001/

WTHR Channel 13: https://www.wthr.com/article/widow-man-killed-downtown-crash-files-suit-against-tesla-over-defects

Indiana Lawyer: https://www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/50702-family-of-indy-legal-startup-founder-sues-tesla-over-fatal-2016-crash