(코리아헤럴드)=안성미기자] 미국 전기차 업체 테슬라를 상대로 급발진 소송을 낸 배우 손지창씨가 최근 정식 재판 절차에 돌입했다.
손씨의 변호를 맡은 미국의 리처드 매큔 (Richard McCune) 변호사는 26일 더인베스터에 “현재로서는 테슬라와의 합의 가능성은 희박하다”며 재판 강행 의지를 시사했다. 첫 재판일은 내년 11월 6일로 정해졌다.
미국에 거주하고 있는 손씨는 지난해 본인 소유의 테슬라 SUV 기종인 모델X를 차고에 주차하던 중 급발진 사고가 났다며 회사를 상대로 소송을 제기했고 이후 비슷한 피해사례들을 모아 진단소송을 진행 중이다.
이에 테슬라는 차량 결함을 부인하며 사고는 손씨의 과실로 발생했다며 소송 각하요청을 제기했지만 이달 초 미국 연방법원 캘리포니아 지부는 피해자들의 설명이 설득력이있다며 테슬라의 요청을 기각했다.
다만 재판부는 손씨 및 원고들이 제기한 과대광고 등의 주장은 근거가 없다며 테슬라의 손을 들어 주었다.
현재로서는 손씨와 테슬라의 입장이 첨예하게 대립하고 있는 상황이라 긴 법정 공방이 불가피할 것으로 보인다.
매큔 변호사는 재판부 기각결정의 만족하며, 손씨의 주장을 더 보충하고자 추가 자료들을 제출할 것이라고 밝혔다.
<원본 영문기사>Settlement unlikely in Tesla’s sudden acceleration case
[THE INVESTOR] Korean actor-singer Son Ji-chang is determined to proceed with his lawsuit against Tesla, alleging defects in Model X and Model S vehicles leading to sudden unintended acceleration, as a settlement with seems unlikely now, according to Son’s attorney.
“We have no reason to believe that this case will be settled anytime in the near future,” Richard McCune of McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, told The Investor on June 26, adding the trial date is set for Nov. 6, 2018.
Meanwhile, Son and his attorney will work on gathering information and evidence in preparation for the trial. McCune plans to ask written questions, conduct depositions and request documents to determine the cause the defect and how long has Tesla known it, as well steps being taken to rectify it.
On Dec. 30, Son filed a class action suit against Tesla in California, after discovering that several cases of unintended acceleration involving the Model X -- that were similar to his accident -- had been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. He claims his Model X SUV unexpectedly accelerated on full throttle while he was trying to park inside the garage in his Irvine home, causing him to crash through the wall and into his living room, injuring himself and his son. Since the initial complaint, more plaintiffs were added to the litigation that now includes both the Model X SUV and Model S sedan.
Tesla, however, denied that its Model X -- once touted as “the safest SUV ever made” by its founder Elon Musk -- suffers from defects. Insisting that the crash was entirely Son’s fault. Tesla also accused him of blackmail using his celebrity status in Korea.
In response, Tesla filed a motion to dismiss half of the claim brought against the automaker accusing that its cars are prone to sudden unintended acceleration.
A California federal judge on June 8 refused to drop the breach of warranty claim, saying drivers sufficiently stated the vehicles may contain manufacturing defects. The judge, however, did rule in favor of Tesla, and dismissed some of the plaintiff’s original claims, including charges of misleading consumers through false advertisements.
McCune said he and Son are pleased with the court’s decision and are planning to provide additional information to the court to amend their claims.
The ongoing lawsuit has sparked controversy in Korea, raising safety concerns about Tesla vehicles as the automaker is speeding up expansion here. Last week, Tesla celebrated the official launch when it delivered Model S 90D vehicles, its first car model on sale, to local customers.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com