Thursday, September 15, 2022

Matsko v. Tesla, Inc. dba Tesla Motors, Inc. et al

A class action lawsuit was just filed against Tesla in federal court in Northern California by a customer who paid for "autopilot" but has never received a truly self-driving car:

Plaintiff brings this consumer class action lawsuit to hold Tesla and its representatives, including CEO Elon Musk, accountable for years of making misleading and deceptive statements regarding the company’s advanced driver assistance systems (“ADAS”) technology. For years, Tesla has deceptively and misleadingly marketed its ADAS technology as autonomous driving technology under various names, including “Autopilot,” “Enhanced Autopilot,” and “Full Self-Driving Capability” (“FSD”), the latter two of which Tesla charges consumers thousands of additional dollars to add to their new vehicle. Tesla has deceived and misled consumers regarding the current abilities of its ADAS technology and by representing that it was perpetually on the cusp of perfecting that technology and finally fulfilling its promise of producing a fully self-driving car. Although these promises have proven false time and time again, Tesla and Musk have continued making them to generate media attention, to deceive consumers into believing it has unrivaled cutting-edge technology, and to establish itself as a leading player in the fast-growing electric vehicle market.

Despite portraying itself as a leader in autonomous vehicle technology, Tesla’s ADAS features have been surpassed by numerous automaker competitors that have developed autonomous driving technology far more advanced than Tesla’s, and now available in some consumer markets. At the same time, former Tesla employees and investigations have revealed damning information that now makes clear that, contrary to Tesla’s repeated promises that it would have a fully self-driving car within months or a year, Tesla has never been remotely close to achieving that goal.

For example, to accompany the 2016 launch of Tesla’s “Enhanced Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” versions of its ADAS technology, much of the Tesla Autopilot engineering team dropped everything to produce a video that purports to show a Tesla car driving itself. The video begins with the following message: “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not driving anything. The car is driving itself.” In reality, Tesla employees made the video would later reveal that the car in the video had significant assistance from commercial mapping software not available to Tesla customers, and that the car still performed poorly and even ran into a fence during filming. With the assistance of a large team of Tesla engineers, the car had to run the same route over and over again before Tesla got acceptable video that appeared to show a car capable of driving itself. Even though the video was debunked as deceptive and misleading years ago, Tesla continues to prominently feature it on its website.

Six years later in 2022, Tesla has yet to produce anything even remotely approaching a fully self-driving car. Instead, Tesla pushes out “updates” to its experimental FSD Beta software to a small minority of Tesla owners, who effectively act as untrained test engineers testing experimental software on public roadways. Drivers have consistently found that Tesla’s FSD Beta software has myriad problems, such as cars failing to make routine turns, running red lights, and steering directly into large objects and oncoming traffic. There have also been numerous collisions involving Tesla’s purportedly cutting-edge ADAS software, including Tesla vehicles plowing at high speeds into large stationary objects such as emergency vehicles and an overturned box truck. Dozens of people have suffered fatal and other serious injuries as a result of these ADAS-related collisions, triggering a host of investigations by state and federal regulators.

As information has trickled out of the secretive company via former employees and investigations, it has become increasingly clear that Tesla knew for years its statements regarding its ADAS technology were deceptive and misleading, but the company made them anyway. Tesla did so to generate excitement about the company’s vehicles and thereby improve its financial condition by, among other things, attracting investment, increasing sales, avoiding bankruptcy, driving up Tesla’s stock price, and helping to establish Tesla as a dominant player in the electric vehicle market.


Plaintiff brings this class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and fellow consumers who purchased or leased a new Tesla vehicle with Tesla’s ADAS technology but never received the selfdriving car that Tesla promised them. Plaintiff brings claims against Tesla for violations of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and California’s False Advertising Law, Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and Unfair Competition Law, as well as common law claims for fraud and deceit, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, and unjust enrichment. Plaintiff seeks various relief on behalf of himself and the proposed Class, including injunctive relief prohibiting Tesla from continuing its deceptive and misleading marketing of its ADAS technology, restitution of the money Plaintiff and Class members paid for technology that Tesla promised but never delivered, and all available damages including punitive damages to punish Tesla for years of using deceptive and misleading marketing to eventually establish itself as a dominant player in the electric vehicle market.

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