Tesla’s reasons for why CEO Elon Musk should not have to be deposed in a case concerning a fatal crash involving one of its vehicles and the potential use of Autopilot was “deeply troubling,” Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Evette D. Pennypacker said this week.
Although the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had already investigated the accident and found the driver to be inattentive, the case is moving forward.
As a case regarding the death of a former Apple engineer who died in 2017 after his Tesla Model X crashed moves forward, Judge Pennypacker revealed the reasons why the automaker believes Musk shouldn’t have to be interviewed.
“Their position is that because Mr. Musk is famous and might be more of a target for deep fakes, his public statements are immune,” Judge Pennypacker writes in an order from Wednesday’s hearing. “In other words, Mr. Musk, and others in his position, can simply say whatever they like in the public domain, then hide behind the potential for their recorded statements being a deep fake to avoid taking ownership of what they did actually say and do.”
Pennypacker called Tesla’s reasoning “deeply troubling to the court.” Bloomberg shared the quotes.
Tesla argues that it cannot technically vouch for the authenticity of Musk’s interviews when he discusses Autopilot or other driver-assistance technology because he is the subject of deep fake videos frequently, the report claims.
Pennypacker was unmoved and issued a tentative order requiring Musk to be deposed in the case of the crash. Tesla’s lawyers will have a chance to change the Judge’s mind later today.
The Apple engineer who tragically passed away in the accident is Walter Huang. His family said Tesla Autopilot malfunctioned and steered his Model X SUV into a median.
However, Tesla’s internal data shows Huang’s hands were not detected on the steering wheel numerous times during the 19 minutes leading up to the crash. Additionally, an investigation conducted by the NTSB revealed Huang was playing a game on his cell phone at the time of the accident.
However, Huang’s family has attempted to use Musk’s statements regarding the progress of Full Self-Driving and autonomous vehicles as evidence in the case. However, Tesla has adequately responded to the family’s request for this information, stating they “simply do not like the answers they received.”
Last week, a jury in Los Angeles cleared Tesla of any wrongdoing in a separate case involving Autopilot because it had properly disclosed that its vehicles were not autonomous and that the driver-assistance suite was not to be used in the area the driver crashed.
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