State Farm Sues Tesla For $1.2 Million Over Indiana Car, Garage Fire

February 18, 2022

State Farm filed a $1.2 million subrogation claim against Tesla in Indiana federal court on Feb. 16, alleging negligence and strict product liability over a fire that damaged an insured’s car and residence.

Two State Farm units, one fire and casualty and the other automobile, claim in Indiana Southern District Court that Tesla should be responsible for $1,271,702.26 in damages incurred from a Feb. 2020 fire caused by a defective condition of an electric vehicle.

According to State Farm’s complaint, Randall W. and Dorothy S. Sencaj of Carmel, Ind. parked their 2016 Tesla Model S in the couple’s attached garage the day of Feb. 17, 2020, plugging the vehicle in to the electric charger.

That evening, as the car was parked and charging, a fire erupted from the garage, resulting in fire damage to the Sencaj residence and its contents, as well as fire damage to the couple’s vehicles.

State Farm paid $1,271,702.26 for fire related damage, additional living expenses incurred by the Sencaj family, and fire damage to the vehicles.

State Farm alleges Tesla was negligent in 13 ways, including:

The Tesla’s electrical system and/or its component parts were defective in their design in that the Tesla’s electrical system did not perform safely, but instead failed

The Tesla’s electrical system was defectively designed because the risks of significant fire damage to consumers’ properties outweigh any potential benefits derived from the Tesla’s electrical system design

State Farm also charges Tesla with one count of strict product liability, alleging that the 2016 Tesla Model S was “unreasonably dangerous and defective.”

“As a direct and proximate result of one or more of the foregoing defective and unreasonably dangerous conditions of the Tesla, an electrical malfunction occurred within the vehicle, causing an electrical arcing event,” the complaint says.

Recent videos of Tesla battery fires in Hong Kong and China led the company to roll out an over-the-air software update for two of its vehicles, including the Model S.

In May 2018, a Model S was involved in a fatal high-speed crash in Florida, killing two teenagers and spurning a National Transportation Safety Board investigation. Earlier that year, another fatal crash in California was tied to Tesla battery fire risk.

Topics Lawsuits Auto Tesla Indiana

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