By on April 6, 2016

Image courtesy Autoblog

A federal judge has ruled against a lawsuit that claimed the Porsche Carrera GT driven by actor Paul Walker and Roger Rodas was to blame for their fatal crash.

The suit, filed by Kristine Rodas (widow of the driver), claimed that the Porsche lacked key safety features that contributed to the death of both men, but no evidence could be found to support this.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez also ruled that there was no evidence that the car’s rear suspension failed prior to the crash, which occurred in a California business park in November 2013.

Walker, who rose to fame in the Fast and the Furious movie franchise, was a passenger in the vehicle.

The Porsche collided with a tree and light pole, killing the occupants almost instantly, before being consumed by a post-crash fire.

“Plaintiff has provided no competent evidence that Rodas’ death occurred as a result of any wrongdoing on the part of defendant,” Gutierrez wrote of the case.

A police investigation (which Porsche engineers assisted in) found that speed, not mechanical faults, led to the crash. According to their findings, the Porsche was travelling at 94 miles per hour when it spun out and crashed.

Porsche, which has denied any wrongdoing related to the crash, is still facing two lawsuits filed by Walker’s daughter, Meadow, as well as his father.

[Source: Associated Press] [Image: Autoblog]

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36 Comments on “Porsche Not to Blame for Paul Walker Crash, Judge Rules...”


  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    One down, two to go.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Yeah, it was a crap lawsuit so it’s about time. Suing for safety nets which weren’t required at the time. The Titanic didn’t have a defibrillator on board, either.

    If the Carrera GT had a big asplode and killed Walker as he was standing next to it, it’d be a different story.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    When I was neck deep in the fluid routing supplier base, the word on the street was the powersteering hydraulic assist lines failed. Whether it’s truth or if it’s design related or not is beyond me.

    And based on my experience, the only thing to survive a fire like that are steel, Al lines and their couplings. If all of that measures to specification, it’s impossible to say if the laser extruded rubber / braid yarn was to spec without looking at production logs.

    Which leads me back to this: if you’re pushing your car to the limit, understand that there are chances that a manufacturing flaw may rear it’s ugly head an the most inopportune time. These kinds of flaws in hydraulic lines usually fail under stress cycling or cold weather.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Hard failures serious enough to cause a crash are rare. I used to be involved in motocross and all the crashes I dealt with were rider error. Failed components occurred due to crashes or flat landing or casing out on a jump face.

    • 0 avatar
      agroal

      This is the first article that suggests that they were both driving. Huh? What about personal responsibility? How about don’t drive like a douche bag in a business park filled with people? Attorneys for the plaintiff pay all defendant’s legal bills. Next!

  • avatar

    The prosecution calls… tresmonos

    asplode. stop.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The widow actually sued?

    Geez. Talk about your long shot.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      The attorney is Mark Geragos. And they’re saying they’re going to appeal. Good luck with that.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        Daytime tv around my part of the country is literally loaded with back to back ambulance chaser adverts. I’ve been told that business is down due to improved vehicle safety and competition for clients is ruthless.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Given the vehicle, beyond any doubt, was being operated so illegally in the first place, how do any of these cases even have any standing to begin with?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      There’s precedent to claim the car suffered from affluenza, being around poorer cars and drinking only premium fuel. It is thus not responsible.

      • 0 avatar

        You’ve never seen what lawyers do when airliners crash. They sue the plane manufacturer, the windshield manufacturer, the carpet manufacturer, the tire manufacturer, the brake manufacturer… Everybody and everything. Right down to the lugnuts. The goal is not to win in court but to settle with a lot of vendors.

        Most parts manufacturers will agree to some kind of settlement. $50,000 or some reasonably small amount just to keep from having to go to court. There’s a LOT of parts in a plane. Or a Porsche.

        It’s Mark Geragos. Lugnut manufacturer, here we come.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          It’s the same thing in residential housing. My friend just builds the walls surrounding new developments, but gets sued when pipes burst inside houses, when roofs leak, etc. It’s a big pain in the A$$ any more.

        • 0 avatar
          philadlj

          Don’t forget the ASHTRAY manufacturers…even though smoking on planes is no longer allowed!

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        CoreyDL…Awesome.

        Made my morning.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      I’m having a hard time finding the info, but the accusations were fairly specific and technical (though not necessarily based on reality). I think one was about the car not having the same self-sealing fuel cells that most road cars do, and another was about the seat belt being mounted to the wrong part of the car (a part that was likely to separate from the passenger cabin in a big crash). Basically, arguing that it was a significantly less crashworthy car than most. I don’t think its notorious handling characteristics were part of the lawsuit.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        They were specific and the judge was specific. The fuel cell was one allegation, but the judge stated that the evidence was Paul died on impact and the fire was not a proximate cause. They also alleged the side structure wasn’t up to impact standards, but the judge ruled they hit the stationary object head on and the side impact reinforcements were not a proximate cause. They alleged the suspension was a faulty design and broke causing them to lose control, and the judge responded there was no evidence of that.

        I can’t recall the 4th primary allegation, but the judge slapped them down item by item. Nice to read a little sanity in the judicial system.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    Not to be snarky, but I think Roger Rodas bears 100% fault here, Porsche 0%.

    Choosing to drive at 94mph through an industrial park, with tress and light poles all around, means you own whatever happens.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    Lawsuits like these are what killed general aviation in the US from the mid-seventies to the mid-nineties. Companies like Cessna were getting bombed with lawsuits every time there was a crash. Even if the crash was obviously 100% pilot error, and the lawsuit frivolous, the cost of mounting a legal defense led the manufacturers to settle out of court. This led to even more lawsuits, as plaintiffs and lawyers smelled an easy pay day.

    Clinton and Congress finally enacted the General Aviation Revitalization Act in ’94, which brought the litigation madness to a halt. Go to your local airport one of these days and count the number of planes built between ’75 and ’95. Not too many from that vintage.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I was training to be an A&P mechanic in the late ’70s, and our instructors warned us in no uncertain terms about how we could be sued if there was any problem with any aircraft maintenance or repairs. Like they said, “When a car breaks down, you can just pull over. With an airplane, you have to find a place to land.” And no, I didn’t become an A&P mechanic.

      And yeah, frivolous lawsuits just about killed the general aviation business. That was already cranking up when I was in school. Cessna’s model selection is tiny now, compared to what it was in the mid ’70s. However, I am impressed with the Cirrus parachute system. Damn good idea.

  • avatar
    Hamilton Guy

    IIRC during the height of the general aviation litigation era about 12% of the sticker price of a new Cessna was for the cost of litigation.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    The widow and her crappy lawyer , should BOTH be counter sued .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      285exp

      They just need to go to loser pays the winner’s legal cost. Most of these types of suits are contingency fee cases, so the plaintiff lawyers are only out their time if they lose. If they have to pay the opposing lawyers if they lose, they’re much less likely to take these frivolous cases.

      • 0 avatar
        doublechili

        “They” will never do that. Not until after a revolution of some kind, anyway. And anyone who suggests it, and who potentially has a chance to do something about it, will be mocked and pilloried.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Is the expired tires thing true?

    • 0 avatar
      Gone4Day

      From my experience, it could be a significant factor. I’ve got a weekend ride that doesn’t get many miles on it. Although the tread depth was fine, the rubber had gone hard after 7+ years. This was causing the rear to break away easily and the ABS to engage early. Didn’t try any high speed turns but the result could have been unpredictable at best. Four new tires fixed the problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Drew8MR

      It certainly is, as any motorcycle mechanic can attest.They get left sitting more than cars and much more often are stored indoors. I have an 06 Ducati sitting right here on factory rubber that looks brand new but has the grip of a bucket of marbles.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      Yes, definitely. If you drive 95 mph in a 45 mph zone and you hit a concrete lamppost, it’s definitely due to the tires being out of date.

      Snark aside, it’s possible that the old rubber contributed to the loss of control – this would still be the fault of the owner/driver, not any deep pocketed third party, and so was not brought up by the plaintiff. There is nothing that Michelin would love more than a law or legal ruling requiring you to discard your tires every 6 years.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I suspect neither Roger or Paul would be OK with any of these lawsuits. No doubt both knew the risks when they climbed into the car that day

  • avatar
    energetik9

    Good. And good on Porsche for fighting this lawsuit instead of just settling.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It’s funny how there’s almost universal agreement that we need some sort of tort reform, but it never happens.

    The concept that “everybody gets their day in court” makes about as much sense “everybody gets arrested so they can prove they haven’t broken the law.”

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