Paul Walker’s daughter sues Porsche

The events that surround the death of Paul Walker, of the Fast & Furious film franchise fame, have not yet been laid to rest, as hi...


The events that surround the death of Paul Walker, of the Fast & Furious film franchise fame, have not yet been laid to rest, as his 16-year-old daughter, Meadow, is now filing a lawsuit against Porsche for producing a car with safety defects that resulted in her father's death. Paul was riding in a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT in November 2013, driven by his friend Roger Rodas, when it crashed, killing both passengers. In May of last year, the widow of Rodas had filed a lawsuit against the German automaker, citing that there were mechanical defects in the car.

This new lawsuit alleges that there has been a past record of Porsche Carrera GT’s instability, yet the automaker did not take corrective measures. The complaint also alleges that the seat belt placement was unsafe for violent impacts, and it had injured Paul during the crash, then trapped him inside as the car burst into flames. The suit continues that this particular car model utilised weak side-impact beams to reduce the weight of the vehicle. It further alleges that the Porsche was uncontrollable when it was hitting speeds of between 63 to 71 mph. 

The California Highway Patrol and LA Country Sheriff, however, stated in their reports that the cause of the accident was the unsafe speed at which the car was travelling, not because of issues with the vehicle itself - the Carrera was, according to the reports, speeding at more than 90 mph before the driver lost control, and crashed into a tree and a streetlight; the speed limit in the area that the incident occurred was only 45 mph. Rodas’ widow, however, claims her husband was driving at only 55 mph before the crash.


Meadow’s lawsuit also blames Porsche for not installing a racing fuel tank, which is designed to prevent outbreak of fire from impacts, but this is a feature that is atypical of production cars.

Porsche has denied liability for both these accusations. In a statement that addresses the most recent lawsuit, the automaker said: “As we have said before, we are very sad whenever anyone is hurt in a Porsche vehicle, but we believe the authorities’ reports in this case clearly establish that this tragic crash resulted from reckless driving and excessive speed.”

Although it might seem like the court has a cut-and-dried decision to make, with the evidence pointing the finger at human error, precedent tells us it might not be so simple. In 1980, Cynthia Files was driving her boss, Donald Fresh, in a Porsche 930 Turbo. Files, who had been drinking, was caught off-guard by the force of the turbos, panicked and applied the brakes as she was entering a bend. The heavy rear of the car (the engine of the 930 is located in the rear) swung around and landed the vehicle in oncoming traffic. Fresh died and Files survived. Fresh’s widow sued both Files and Porsche for wrongful death, and while the jury decided that Files was not guilty, despite being intoxicated at the time of the crash, they ordered Porsche to pay US$2.5 million in damages.

The prosecuting lawyer, Craig McClellan, explained, “If an automaker knowingly does not use the technology it has available — something that may be standard on many other cars, especially when it relates to high performance vehicles — then that automaker should be liable in any injuries or deaths that occur due to this oversight.” 

images: Instagram, stuff.co.nz

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