As Reported by Law360, electric car manufacturer Tesla has agreed to pay $1.5 million to over 1,700 Tesla Model S owners as part of a proposed class action settlement. Plaintiffs in the underlying lawsuit claim a software update intended to reduce the risk of battery fires also throttled the battery life of each affected vehicle, resulting in an effective travel range loss of 20 to 40 miles.

The suit was filed in 2019 by Lieff Cabraser, after the representative plaintiff noticed a marked drop in range on his Tesla, from 247 miles on a full charge to 217 miles after the mandated software update. Though his vehicle was still under warranty, he was denied a replacement battery. “Tesla’s ability to issue over-the-air software updates is unique and, for the right reasons, may be used as a tool to benefit Tesla owners,” the plaintiff’s complaint stated. “However, the problem here is that when this ability is unchecked, unregulated, and conducted in a manner to avoid legal duties and obligations as Tesla does with its warranties, customers like Plaintiff and other members of the putative class are at the short end of the stick and are left helpless, and will continue to be harmed by companies like Tesla that operate on the belief that ‘not telling anyone’ is good company policy.”

The majority of the 1,743 owners and lessees of the class will receive up to $625 in the settlement, while some class members will receive a prorated smaller amount. “The [settlement payment] is many times the prorated value of the temporarily reduced maximum voltage, and thus represents an excellent and efficient result for the settlement class,” plaintiffs told the court.

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