Attorneys for Porsche say a fiery crash that killed actor Paul Walker and a friend, who was behind the wheel, was caused by a driver who "exposed himself and others to such perils," according to statements in response to a lawsuit that alleges problems with the car were to blame.
Roger Rodas, 38, was behind the wheel of the high-performance Porsche Carrera GT supercar when it slammed into a tree and burned north of Los Angeles. Walker, 40, and Rodas, a professional race car driver, were killed in the November 2013 crash as they left a charity event in Santa Clarita.
Rodas' widow, Kristine Rodas, filed a lawsuit in May 2014 against Porsche Cars North America, the sports car company's United States importer, claiming her husband was an experienced driver and that the car was flawed.
Top news of the day
In their response filed earlier this week, attorneys for Porsche said "Roger Rodas's death, and all other injuries or damages claimed, were the result of Roger Rodas's own comparative fault."
"Roger Rodas knowingly and voluntarily assumed all risk, perils and danger in respect to the operation or use of the subject 2005 Carrera GT, that the perils, risk and dangers were open and obvious and known to him, and that he chose to conduct himself in a manner so as to expose himself and others to such perils, dangers and risks, thus assuming all the risks involved in using and operating the vehicle," according to the nine-page document.
The results of an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol were released in March 2014 and concluded that it was unsafe speed and not mechanical problems that caused the crash. That investigation was aided by engineers from Porsche, who evaluated the wreckage of the rare car.
Crash investigators determined Rodas was traveling at speeds between 80 and 93 mph. The mid-engine, 600-plus horsepower vehicle began to drift out of a curve and slammed into the tree located in an industrial park area about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. Porsche engineers examined the mangled and burned wreckage and determined there were no problems with the car's electrical systems, brakes, throttle, fuel system, steering, suspension or other systems.
Crash investigators also determined the car's tires were about nine years old and the vehicle was fitted with an aftermarket exhaust. The response filed by Porsche's attorney says the car was "abused and altered" and "misused or improperly maintained."
The lawsuit, which could take years to resolve, claims the vehicle was not equipped with safety components, such as a crash cage designed to protect occupants, and a proper fuel tank. It also claims a suspension failure led to the crash.
Rodas and Walker co-owned an auto racing team named after Rodas' shop, Always Evolving, and Rodas drove professionally for the team on the Pirelli World Challenge circuit in 2013. Walker's death occurred on a break in the filming of "Fast & Furious 7."