Tesla is settling with the family of the Apple engineer who died in an Autopilot crash

This week, Tesla was scheduled to appear in court to defend its Autopilot system against a claim of wrongful death — but it looks like the company will pay the family of Apple engineer Wei “Walter” Huang instead.

Court documents show that Tesla is trying to seal the amount of a potential settlement payment to the Huang family. While it’s not clear how much the company might be offering or what other terms the settlement includes, lawyers for Tesla state that both parties have already agreed to the settlement and want it to be confidential.

You can read that document below; The Washington Post and Bloomberg reported the news earlier. Lawyers for the Huang family didn’t immediately respond to our email.

The settlement has not yet been approved by a judge. Court documents suggest that there’ll be a follow-up hearing this Thursday, April 11th to discuss the settlement further — after the California Department of Transportation, which is also a defendant in the case, gets a chance to object to the settlement.

Huang’s Tesla Model X was confirmed to be using Autopilot when it smashed into a safety barrier in Mountain View, California in March 2018. He died following the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that both Autopilot and distracted driving were factors leading to the crash.

Tesla was planning to argue that Huang was playing a game on his phone at the time — he had a pattern of playing games during commute hours, and investigators found a game was the frontmost app on his phone at the time, but couldn’t determine if he was actually playing it when the vehicle crashed. Tesla wanted to drag Apple into the trial, subpoenaing the company for proof that Apple knew he was playing the game, and Apple has been trying to quash that subpoena.

Update, 7:35PM ET: Added extra details from today’s courtroom minutes.


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