Tesla Faces Lawsuit Over Door Handle Failure: The Defense and Recalls Explained
The Lawsuit and Tesla's Defense
Tesla is currently facing a lawsuit over the failure of one of its car's door handles. John L Urban, the owner of a Model S P85D from Florida, claims that he purchased the car in 2015 because of its retractable mechanical door handle feature. However, after the warranty expired, two of the door handles stopped working, costing Urban $598.80 to repair. He has now filed a class action lawsuit against Tesla, alleging that users were forced to use other means to enter their cars when the door handles failed.
Tesla is attacking the merit of the case, stating that door handle problems do not render a car "unmerchantable." According to them, it is easy to argue that the design defect works until a part fails and therefore is a "manufacturing defect." They believe that unless they intentionally designed it to not work from day one, it cannot be considered defective. In this case, if a part replacement of the exact same part fixed it, then it’s a manufacturing issue.
While some may argue that a design can be considered "defective" if it causes premature failure of the device, Tesla believes that manufacturing refers to the part while design refers to how it works. Therefore, if replacing the part with the same part fixes it, then it’s a manufacturing issue. Although many customers have reported issues with their Tesla vehicles' charge port doors not opening when tapping on the wand button or door, Tesla argues that this is an operator error and does not require any new parts.
Recalls and Safety Issues
There are plenty of examples of companies recalling products because their designs had unintended consequences like killing a child or exploding upon collision. While safety recalls have nothing to do with warranty claims, lawsuits often try to paint a wide brush to make their case by claiming safety issues. One could argue that if the door handles won't come out in a critical situation, it could be viewed as a safety issue.
However, Tesla maintains that this is not a safety issue since it only affects outside door handles. While they don't agree with the claim that it's not a manufacturing defect, they can see how it's not a safety issue either. Additionally, they believe that asking for a replacement part from a newer model would mean that it’s a design defect and not under warranty.
In conclusion, Tesla is trying to get the Model S door handle lawsuit thrown out by attacking its merit. They believe that unless they intentionally designed it to not work from day one, it cannot be considered defective. Additionally, they argue that if replacing the part with the same part fixes it, then it’s a manufacturing issue rather than a design defect. While some may argue that this could be viewed as a safety issue in certain situations, Tesla maintains that this only affects outside door handles and is not related to safety concerns.