"Tesla allegedly engaged in a systematic pattern of fraud over a long period of time."

Repeat Offender

Remember all of Elon Musk's claims that Tesla's "Full-Self Driving" (FSD) mode would be actually autonomous soon? Thanks to one lawsuit, he might have to pay for not making that happen.

As Bloomberg reports, a California federal judge has ruled that a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of all Tesla drivers who used FSD, Autopilot, or Enhanced Autopilot should be allowed to move forward after finding that the primary plaintiff has grounds to claim he'd been misled.

The plaintiff in question, Thomas LoSavio, bought his Tesla in 2017 and paid $8,000 extra for FSD. In the ensuing years, the company and its bombastic CEO have repeatedly promised that truly autonomous driving was just around the corner — a promise that hasn't, of course, come to fruition.

"Tesla did not recite the same lie time and time again," Judge Rita Lin of the Northern District of California wrote in her order, per Quartz. "Instead, it allegedly lied about its progress incrementally and with increasing specificity over time."

"If Tesla meant to convey that its hardware was sufficient to reach high or full automation," Lin continued, LoSavio's complaint "plainly alleges sufficient falsity."

Good Company

As Quartz notes, the plaintiff was initially joined by four co-complainants when he originally filed suit in 2022, but last year, another judge ruled that Tesla's arbitration agreements — which LoSavio had opted out of, and which several US senators have referred to as "coercive" — meant customers could only remedy their concerns using the company's in-house system.

Far from the first lawsuit Tesla has faced over its so-called Autopilot and FSD capabilities, this suit is in good company with the Justice Department's probe looking into whether Musk's autonomy proclamations could amount to wire and securities fraud.

Lin's order in LoSavio's lawsuit doesn't rule on the merits of the claims themselves, but rather on whether they should be allowed to be brought to court. As she wrote in her filing, the plaintiff "plausibly and with sufficient detail" made the case that "Tesla allegedly engaged in a systematic pattern of fraud over a long period of time" and that he "relied on these representations before buying his car."

Translation: while not quite a slam dunk just yet, a federal judge allowing the case to move forward shows that Tesla and Musk's repeated insistence that autonomous driving is coming could come back to hurt him amid the company's massive earnings slump.

More on FSD: 98 Percent of Drivers Who Try Tesla's Full Self-Driving Demo Ditch It After the Trial Period Is Over

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