LOS ANGELES (CN) - Race car driver Roger Rodas' widow claims in court that Porsche's negligently designed Carrera GT caused the death of her husband and his friend, "The Fast and the Furious" actor Paul Walker.
Kristine Rodas sued Porsche Cars North America in a nine-count lawsuit that includes claims of negligence, false advertising and wrongful death, and seeks a jury trial, general and special damages and costs.
On Nov. 30, 2013, in Santa Clarita, Walker was a passenger in Rodas' 2005 Porsche Carrera GT sports car when, according to the widow, the car "malfunctioned," went off road, swiped a tree, hit a light pole, hit another tree and was broken in half by a third. The final impact caused the car to burst into flames.
Rodas claims her husband was driving at 55 mph when the car spun out of control, though the car is capable of reaching a top speed of 205 mph.
With help from Porsche engineers, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol concluded in a March report that the car was traveling at 94 mph upon impact and that mechanical failure did not cause the crash, according to Time magazine and other media reports.
Rodas disputes that finding.
"The Porsche driven by Mr. Rodas went out of control due to the failure of a suspension component in the right rear wheel area. The failure of the suspension component allowed the right rear wheel to twist to a left steer attitude, causing the vehicle's rear to swing to the left, which in turn caused the vehicle to yaw to the right. Despite Mr. Rodas' attempt to steer the vehicle left in order to stay on the road, the Porsche continued its path off-road, ultimately ending in the fatal crash," the 17-page lawsuit states.
Porsche had boasted about the car's race car design, according to Rodas, who notes the vehicle was authorized for races. She claims the Carrera GT failed to include common crash protections, including a functioning crash cage and racing fuel cell.
"A properly functioning crash cage would have prevented the death of Roger Rodas and Paul Walker," the complaint states. "Even after the failure of the suspension and subsequent loss of control and impacts with the pole and trees, if the crash cage was properly functioning, there would not have been intrusion into the passenger compartment, the fuel tank would not have been compromised or ruptured, and the vehicle would not have been broken in half in the final impact."
A racing fuel cell "keeps the fuel from moving around in the tank, and in the event of a crash, the fuel cell retains all the fuel even if the tank is deformed, rolled, or directly impacted," Rodas says in the complaint. She says, "The Carrera GT lacked any such proper racing fuel cell."
Rodas claims that Porsche knew the car had been in several fatal crashes but never warned owners or made the cars safer.
According to Rodas, Porsche test driver and World Rally champ Walter Rohrl said the Carrera GT is "'the first car in my life that I drive and I feel scared.'"
Rojas and Walker had just attended a charity event when the car crashed. Rojas left his wife and their two young children. Walker, 40, was in the middle of filming "The Fast and the Furious 7," when he died. He appeared in "Hours" and "Brick Mansions," released posthumously in December 2013 and April 2014.
"The Fast and the Furious 7" is scheduled for release in 2015, with Walker's brothers Caleb and Cody performing as stand-ins.
Rodas is represented by Mark Geragos with Geragos & Geragos.