State Farm has filed a $1.27 million subrogation claim against Tesla, claiming that the “defect in design or manufacture” of the 2022 Tesla Model S started a fire that heavily damaged a Carmel, Indiana couple’s home in 2022.
The claim was filed Feb. 16 in U.S. District Court for that Southern District of Indiana by State Farm Fire and Casualty and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.
The lawsuit was filed eventually before the second anniversary from the fire, which State Farm says was brought on by the Tesla as it was recharging within the attached garage of a home of Randall W. and Dorothy S. Sencaj.
“Your day of the Fire, the Sencaj family drove the Tesla to accomplish various errands. They returned towards the home and parked the Tesla within the attached garage, plugging it to the electric charger. Your evening, the Tesla was parked and charging in the attached garage even though the Sencaj family was watching tv, they began to observe smoke and flames emanating in the garage,” the claim states.
“Investigation in to the origin and cause of the Fire by STATE FARM, and experts retained to investigate on its behalf, revealed the Fire originated in the Tesla and was the result of a defective condition from the vehicle, which was present when the vehicle was place into the stream of commerce by Defendant Tesla,” the plaintiffs claim.
State Farm says its investigation in to the fire showed that it originated with the Tesla, and “was caused by a defective condition from the vehicle” as it was delivered.
It alleges that “the electrical system failed,” causing “an electric arcing event” that ignited materials within the Tesla’s “engine compartment.”
The claim lists 13 ways that Tesla might have been negligent:
The insurers seek judgment within the quantity of $1,271,702.26 be entered within their favor, and “for such other or further relief because this Court deems equitable and merely.”
The issue is a reminder from the safety concerns associated with EV repair. I-CAR highlighted a few of these concerns during a presentation at the Collision Industry Conference in January.
While the Bolt EV from Chevrolet and conventional vehicles from Hyundai and Kia recently come under scrutiny for his or her potential to catch fire while parked, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has said that non-crash battery fires in Teslas are “rare events.”
In rejecting a 2022 petition with a study into Tesla’s software updates produced in response to a series of vehicle fires, NHTSA noted in October the odds were small that such inquiry would find a safety issue.
“The available data indicate that noncrash battery fires in Tesla vehicles are rare events. It's unlikely that an order concerning the notification and remedy of the safety-related defect would be issued because of any investigation opened because of granting this petition,” the company noted.