A San Francisco-based Tesla owner filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the electric vehicle company over a phantom braking problem that he claims has “turned a safety feature into a terrifying and dangerous nightmare.” The lawsuit was first reported by Reuters.
The lawsuit was filed by San Francisco resident Jose Alvarez Toledo in federal court in the Northern District of California. In the complaint, Toledo estimates there are “hundreds of thousands” of Tesla customers who could try to join its class action lawsuit against the company.
The lawsuit accuses Tesla of fraudulently concealing the safety risks associated with the company’s Autopilot driver assistance system, violating its warranties, unfairly taking advantage of Autopilot and violating California’s unfair competition law. Toledo is demanding punitive damages.
“Many Tesla owners have reported significant, unexpected delays and stops due to the incorrect engagement of their Class Vehicle braking systems, even though there were no objects nearby,” the lawsuit reads. “When the sudden accidental brake failure occurs, they turn what should be a safety feature into a terrifying and dangerous nightmare.”
The lawsuit comes as Tesla faces a federal investigation into its phantom braking problem, which first surfaced last fall. Those reports emerged just as Tesla was forced to roll back version 10.3 of its Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software, the company’s advanced driver assistance system, due to issues with forward collision warnings and unexpected braking.
In fact, following the rollback, the number of complaints has increased significantly, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration receiving at least 107 from November to January, compared to just 34 in the previous 22 months. according to The Washington Post.
In February, the NHTSA began investigating incidents involving Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles after receiving 354 complaints. And in May, the agency sent a 14-page “request for information” letter to Tesla, updating its complaint count to 758.
NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation opened a “preliminary review,” which is the stage before the agency could issue a formal recall, covering approximately 416,000 vehicles. To date, there have been no reports of accidents, injuries or fatalities due to this issue.
The problem may be traced to Tesla’s decision last year to remove radar sensors from new Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. The decision came after Tesla CEO Elon Musk publicly expressed a desire to rely solely on cameras to power the company’s advanced driver assistance system.