Just as Google announced last week that they have branched off the Alphabet section of their company responsible for self-driving cars and assigned it their own set of lawyers, Tesla may be headed to court. Tesla is the first of its kind self-driving car software that Joshua Brown was using when he was killed in a car accident last month.
The court case being brought by Jack Landskroner, a personal injury lawyer Los Angeles, is the first of its kind to challenge the legality of no constraints or regulations being imposed on new self-driving car technologies. Hired by the Brown family, his job before filing any motions, is to investigate what the software may or may not have to do with the deadly car crash.
Brown is not the only client that Landskroner has on his list. Several other users of the Tesla technology have contacted the firm to tell a tale of similar car incidents that have occurred under the watchful eye of the Tesla auto-piloted feature.
For now, the firm has no conclusions about who is to blame for the accident or if the software is in any way responsible for the allegations coming to light. He contends that he has not made any decision about who was responsible for the crash not only about the Brown collision but to other car accidents that have been added to his list of potential incidents.
Landskroner maintains that, at this time, his office is in the process of investigating claims, and nothing else. Nothing more, he maintains should be concluded from the investigation since no evidence has been sorted through.
Based out of Cleveland, the personal injury firm that Landskroner works out of specializes in product liability cases. Among their list of accomplishments is their class action lawsuit waged against Cleveland Public Power. Their allegations were that over 80,000 clients that Cleveland Public Power served were defrauded through the use of hidden monthly charges and fees, which added up to millions in fraudulent revenue money.
Also adding to his list of accomplishments, Landskroner was recently elected as the national president of the Public Justice Foundation. A highly prestigious organization, they are foremost and center in the works of civil liberties and civil rights cases around the nation. They also are attached to consumers’ rights, food health & safety, and environmental protection cases.
The potential of this case is more than the self-driving industry can handle. Not only could a fatal crash at the hands of their technology tarnish the brand, but it may also put the breaks on many other initiatives for self-driving car protocols for major companies like Nissan and Google. Tesla, being notified of the crash did not make the claims public, nor did they disclose it to their shareholders, which cause a huge firestorm and a quick sell-off of company stock.
In fact, Tesla sold over $2 billion in stock just 11 days after the crash knowing that the potential of blame may still be out there. Even after making a bid to purchase SolarCity, they still have not disclosed the case to anyone who has financial shares or interest.
After the crash, the family took great pains to decide whether to sue the company or not. Brown, the deceased driver, believed greatly in the self-driving technology and had hopes that it would soon become more than just a concept, but the future for automobiles. Landskroner is not only unsure about whether Tesla will be found at fault in the semitrailer truck accident colliding with a Tesla Model S that caused Browns death, but he is also still unaware if the family will proceed with the lawsuit on Brown’s behalf.
Tesla has decided to remain silent and not make a comment. Until evidence is sifted through, doing any preemptive publicity is a waste of resources and may end up harming their reputation more than just staying quiet and waiting for the fallout, if it comes. In the meantime, the DOT is already working to make more stringent regulations about self-driving technology, including how that technology can be tested to protect the public at large. With Google promising a self-driving vehicle to be available to the general public as soon as 2020, everyone has a lot of work to do.