Tesla and Pappas Restaurants have been named in a lawsuit filed seven months after an accident that injured five police officers in Splendora, Montgomery County.
The Buzbee Law Firm and Muery & Farrell PC filed the suit which alleges Tesla has not done enough to address issues with the automaker’s Autopilot system.
According to the lawsuit, on Feb. 27, 2021, a Tesla Model X - with Autopilot engaged - crashed into several police officers who were involved in a traffic stop on the Eastex Freeway near East River Road. The suit claims all the officers were badly injured.
The lawsuit continues on to state the following: “Due to the design and manufacturing defects known to Tesla, Tesla’s failure to adequately warn of those defects, and Tesla’s unwillingness to admit or correct such defects, the Autopilot and Tesla’s system safety features failed to detect the officers’ cars or to function in any way to avoid or warn of the hazard and subsequent crash.”
The officers are seeking damages for injuries and permanent disabilities. The lawsuit lists damages in excess of $1,000,000, with maximum damages of $20,000,000.
According to the suit: “The officers want to hold Tesla accountable, and force Tesla to publicly acknowledge and immediately correct the known defects inherent in its Autopilot and collision avoidance systems, particularly as those impact the ongoing safety of our nation’s first responders.”
The lawsuit claims Tesla’s autopilot system has been linked to at least 12 crashes in the United States involving first responders working active scenes with flashing lights.
“Upon research, what we have discovered is, this is happening all over the country. In fact, the government has just recently, talking about in the last 30-60 days, has requested of Tesla to turn over information regarding every crash that has occurred involving the Tesla on autopilot that also involves police officers, because apparently the defect that exists is when the police lights are flashing it makes the Tesla on autopilot not detect the vehicle,” said attorney Tony Buzbee in an interview with KPRC 2.
“You’ve probably see that Elon Musk and Tesla have proudly touted Teslas on autopilot are safer than your everyday driver, that Tesla’s on autopilot there are fewer accidents than they are otherwise. But what we’ve learned is that this information is misleading,” added Buzbee.
The other defendant - Pappas Restaurants
The lawsuit against Tesla also lists Pappas Restaurants as a defendant, claiming the driver of the Tesla was overserved alcohol at a Pappasito’s Cantina prior to the accident. According to the suit, the police report from the night of the accident indicates the driver was arrested on suspicion of intoxication assault.
“We have only just received this complaint and will be conducting an investigation into its allegations,” said Anna Marchand, general counsel for Pappas Restaurants, in a statement to KPRC 2. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers involved. We want to thank the Montgomery County constables for all they do for our community.”
KPRC 2 has reached out to Tesla and Pappas Restaurants for a response to the lawsuit and will update this article as additional information is available.