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The Physical Toll: Tesla being sued by toll collector struck by accelerating Model X

Toronto, Ontario — In what could turn out to be a landmark ruling on the future of autonomous driving legislation, a lawsuit currently in front of New Jersey District Court is weighing out the responsibility of a crash involving a Tesla Model X and a toll booth, leaving the attendant injured and suing for damages.

Toll collector Sharon Scott wants compensation for injuries she suffered following an incident where a 2019 Model X allegedly accelerated on its own causing a crash at the toll booth she was working at on the New Jersey Turnpike in 2020.

Scott is suing Tesla, vehicle owner Mike Gao and driver Kim Lam, who was operating the vehicle at the time.

The suit alleges negligence, material misrepresentations about safety, and violations of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act. It demands a jury trial and an unspecified amount of compensation for Scott’s injuries.

The suit also goes on to point out Tesla’s track record for “Sudden Uncommanded Acceleration” (SUA) events, 13 of which were referred to in complaints from 2016, the Model X’s first year on the road.

In its answer to the complaint, Tesla denied negligence and violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. It also denied the negligence allegations made against Lam and instead blamed Scott and unnamed third parties.

“Plaintiff was guilty of negligence which either caused or contributed to the happening of the alleged accident and resulting injuries,” wrote Tesla’s in the answer to the complaint.

“The Complaint herein fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The negligence herein, if any, was the negligence of third parties over whom these defendants had no control.”

Lam and Gao also filed a cross-claim against Tesla to indemnify them for “liability and damages of the type alleged by plaintiffs and to procure liability insurance protecting defendants.” The case was referred to arbitration on Feb. 8, according to the case docket.

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