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Injured janitor, Tesla settle for $13M

A janitor will receive $13 million to settle her personal injury lawsuit for injuries she sustained at a Tesla factory, the janitor’s attorney announced in a news release on Tuesday.

Teodora Tapia was a janitor at San Jose, California-based Flagship Facility Services Inc., when she was assigned to provide janitorial services at Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant. On Aug. 12, 2014, she was struck by a vehicle being driven by a worker employed by West Valley Staffing Group Inc., based in Sunnyvale, California. According to the complaint, Ms. Tapia was pinned between the bumper of that vehicle and another car, and she also claimed that the employee struck her a second time, causing her to suffer serious and permanent injuries to her lower extremities and body. The case is Teodora Tapia v. Tesla Motors, in Alameda County Superior Court.

Ms. Tapia filed a complaint against Tesla and its employees, alleging that the defendants negligently owned, operated, controlled, maintained and inspected the premises. She also charged that Tesla and its employees knew or should have known of the dangerous conditions on the premises, failed to warn Ms. Tapia of the dangers, and failed to make safe and employ sufficient personnel to operate, manage, maintain and inspect and clean the premises, according to the initial complaint filed by her attorney, R. Rex Parris of PARRIS Law Firm in Lancaster, California.

A Tesla spokesperson said West Valley will pay the bulk of the settlement, and that the trial “focused solely on the amount of damages due,” not Tesla’s safety practices.

PARRIS attorney Khail Parris, who also worked on the case, said that Tesla and West Valley were considered joint employers at the time of trial and that Tesla has declined to disclose how much of the settlement will be paid by West Valley.

West Valley did not immediately respond to requests for comment.