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Two Triangle Tesla owners sue company due to alleged braking defect

Two Triangle residents filed a lawsuit Monday against Tesla. The suit claims the company knew about brake defects before selling EVs to the people.

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Federal Safety Agency Has Expanded Its Investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot System
Mark Bergin
, WRAL senior multiplatform producer

Two Tesla owners in the Triangle filed a lawsuit against Tesla on Monday, claiming the company knew about a brake defect but sold them electric vehicles (EVs) anyway.

The class-action lawsuit states Michael Costello of Wake County bought a Tesla Model 3 and Megan Colonel of Durham County bought a Tesla Model Y. Both used their EVs for personal, family and household use, the lawsuit states.

“Passenger safety and reliability were important factors in [their] decision to purchase their vehicles,” the suit states.

According to the lawsuit, Costello and Colonel experienced sudden, unintended braking defects on “several occasions” while driving their Tesla EVs.

The suit claims the braking defect “presents a safety hazard” for drivers and renders the EVs “unreasonably dangerous to consumers because it severely impacts a driver’s ability to control vehicle speed as expected under normal driving conditions and maintain an appropriate speed based on traffic flow, thereby increasing the risk of a rear-end collision.”

The suit claims all Tesla Class Vehicles use the same autopilot systems and that the “Sudden Unintended Braking Defect affects all Class Vehicles.”

Also, the suit states Tesla knew about the problem of false activations for its automatic emergency braking system for years.

“The Sudden Unintended Braking Defect has significantly diminished the value of [their] Class Vehicles,” the suit states.

Also, the lawsuit claims Costello and Colonel would not have purchased their Tesla had the company disclosed the braking defect, or the two would have paid less than what they paid.

According to the suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, there were 273 crashes involving an advanced driver-assistance system have been linked to Tesla since July 2021 – the most of any automobile company.

“Apart from Honda, [which] reported 90 crashes, no other automaker reported more than 10 ADAS crashes during the one-year period,” the suit states.

On Tuesday, WRAL News reached out to Tesla with a request for comment but did not immediately hear back.

Charleston, South Carolina-based attorneys Blake Abbott and Paul Doolittle of Poulin Willey Anastopoulo filed the suit on behalf of Costello and Colonel.

Durham woman claims her Tesla account got hacked

In June 2022, WRAL 5 On Your Side spoke with Colonel about another issue she had with Tesla. She claimed her account with the company was hacked and an expensive car charger was purchased with her credit card on file.

"When I went to ... my past orders, I saw a Tesla wall charger that I did not buy," Colonel said in June 2022.

When Colonel looked closer, she realized someone made changes to her profile.

"The name on the account, the email address had changed away from my email to an email that looked like my name, but it was spelled wrong," Colonel explained.

Colonel caught her hacking issue quickly enough that a call to her local Tesla service center got her control of her account back and a refund.

In February, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation of Tesla into reports of "phantom braking" in the company's Models 3 and Y.


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