Porsche is being sued by the family of Roger Rodas, the driver of the Carrera GT in which he and Paul Walker died.
The filing, made on May 12 in Los Angeles, claims wrongful death as the Carrera GT wasn’t fit for purpose, and that Porsche was both negligent and violated California’s false advertising laws. It also asserts that Rodas was an experienced racing car driver with at least 20 races under his belt.
Experts hired by the family concluded that Rodas was driving straight down Constitution Road at around 55mph (89km/h) when suspension failure meant that the right rear tyre suddenly began to steer to the right, causing the car to go in that direction. Despite attempts by Rodas to countersteer, the Carrera GT continued on its course, mounted the curb, and then hit a tree, a light pole, another tree and a final tree in quick succession.
The force of the impact with the second tree was hard enough to cause the car’s airbags to deploy. At the final tree the car split in two and wrapped itself around the tree, after which the Carrera GT caught fire.
As a competitor to the Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Murcielago and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, the suit claims that the Carrera GT should have been designed with a “a higher standard of crash protection … than ordinary street cars”, including a crash cage that would have prevented intrusion into the cabin, as well as a racing fuel cell to prohibit the subsequent fire.
This version of events contradicts the conclusions of an investigation by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol. The official report rules out mechanical failure, saying instead that Rodas lost control of the Porsche while travelling at between 80mph (129km/h) and 93mph (150km/h) in a 45mph (72km/h) zone.
Both Rodas and Walker had their seatbelts on at the time of the accident and died at the scene; neither had drugs or alcohol in their system.