Tesla sued after Aventura teen killed in fiery crash

Lawsuit: Sedan had defective battery pack that caused it to erupt in flames

Barrett Riley (left) and Edgar Monserratt, seniors who were preparing to graduate from the Pine Crest School, were killed in a Fort Lauderdale crash.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A lawsuit has been filed against electric car maker Tesla by the estate of an Aventura teenager who was killed last year in a fiery crash in Fort Lauderdale.

Edgar Monserratt Martinez, 18, was a passenger in the 2014 Tesla S sedan May 8 when it crashed into a wall along the 1300 block of Seabreeze Boulevard. 

Monserratt Martinez and the driver, Barrett Riley, 18, were trapped inside the car and died when it became engulfed in flames, Fort Lauderdale police said.

A back-seat passenger, Alexander Berry, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, was thrown from the car and survived.

Chicago law firm Corboy & Demetrio filed a product liability and negligence lawsuit Tuesday against Tesla, claiming the sedan had a defective battery pack that caused the car to erupt in flames. 

The law firm also claims that Tesla wrongly removed a limiter set so the vehicle couldn't travel faster than 85 mph. 

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the car was traveling at 116 mph just seconds before impact. 

"The Tesla S battery was prone to extremely intense fires incapable of being timely extinguished," Corboy & Demetrio partner Philip Corboy Jr. said in a statement. 

Corboy has partnered with Schlesinger Law Offices of Fort Lauderdale in the case. 

According to the lawsuit, Tesla failed to warn purchasers about the battery issue.

The lawsuit states that Riley's parents had the limiter installed at a Tesla Service Center to prevent it from reaching over 85 mph, but it was later removed without Riley's parents' knowledge.

The lawsuit claims Tesla was negligent in the removal of the limiter. 

According to the Corboy & Demetrio law firm, there have been at least a dozen reported cases worldwide of Tesla S batteries catching fire in crashes, as well as while stationary in the last five years. 


About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.