On Friday, a South Korean celebrity named Ji Chang Son filed a lawsuit against Tesla, which alleged his Model X spontaneously accelerated as he was parking it into his garage, ramming through his living room, and injuring him as well as his son, who was in the car with him. In a email to Gizmodo, a Tesla spokesperson claimed that before Son filed the suit—which seeks class action status—he “threatened to use his celebrity status in Korea to hurt Tesla” unless the company “agreed to make a financial payment and acknowledge that the vehicle accelerated on its own.”
Gizmodo has reached out to Tesla to ask about Son’s alleged threats.
The Tesla spokesperson contended that “the evidence clearly shows the vehicle was not at fault. Our policy is to stand by the evidence and not to give in to ultimatums.”
Ji-Chang Son starred in a slew of South Korean television shows and movies in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He is also a singer-songwriter. The Korean celebrity posted about the incident on his Facebook, detailing the events of the accident. According to a Google translation, Son wrote that after Tesla didn’t admit it was at fault, he began considering a lawsuit.
“The article began to come up yesterday, and I came up with the answer that I demanded money because I was famous,” he wrote. “If the wall was concrete, not wood, I would [have died].”
Son’s lawsuit cited seven other similar complaints against Tesla. The company maintained that in all these instances, the driver was at fault.
Tesla contended it “protects against pedal misapplication on multiple levels” and that its software uses “the Autopilot sensor suite to distinguish potential pedal misapplication events from normal cases when a driver intentionally presses the accelerator pedal. In cases of unambiguous pedal misapplication, the vehicle cuts torque to mitigate the effects of the driver’s error.”
The lawsuit filed December 30 said that according to a study by NASA, between 2000 and 2010, the rate of sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) incidents was one in 100,000.
“Within the first year of Model X vehicles being on the road, and with only 16,000 Model X vehicles in use (the vast majority of which have been on the road significantly less than one year), there have been ten (10) reported incidents of sudden unintended acceleration — a staggeringly high rate of SUA incidents of 62 per 100,000 vehicles per year,” said the lawsuit.
It also claimed that the nine other known instances of Model X SUA incidents “are eerily similar” to what happened to Son.