Judge Rejects Tesla’s Motion to Dismiss Self-Driving Claims Lawsuit

A California judge last Wednesday rejected Tesla’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the company’s misleading claims about its vehicles’ self-driving capabilities.

The proposed class action lawsuit accused the electric vehicle maker of falsely claiming that its self-driving technologies, including Autopilot, were either functional or “just around the corner” when inducing customers to pay more for their Teslas.

In her May 15 decision, US District Judge Rita Lin dismissed some of the claims against Tesla but allowed the lawsuit to move forward “to the extent” that the plaintiffs relied on “representations” about their Tesla’s hardware and possible “cross-country driving abilities.”

Lin noted without ruling on the merits of the case that if the company intended to “convey that its hardware was sufficient to reach high or full automation,” it would amount to “sufficient falsity.”

The case was first brought by retired California lawyer Thomas LoSavio, who in 2017, paid an $8,000 premium to include Full Self-Driving capabilities for the Model S he purchased, believing that it would make driving safer for him as his response times slowed due to age.

LoSavio claimed that six years after purchasing his Model S, he was still waiting for the self-driving technology upgrades as Tesla remained unable to produce a fully self-driving vehicle.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages for the Tesla customers who have leased or purchased a Tesla since 2016 while paying the premium for Autopilot, Full Self-Driving, and Enhanced Autopilot features.

Tesla’s Autopilot technology has been under intense scrutiny. In 2023, the company attempted to remotely patch the self-driving software in over two million vehicles as part of its recall following an investigation into the software’s safety.

Since 2016, the National Transportation Safety Administration (NTSB) has opened more than three dozen investigations into whether Tesla’s self-driving software may have contributed to fatal crashes.