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Family of woman hit, killed by self-driving Uber sues Tempe, state

(Tempe Police Photo)

PHOENIX – The widow and daughter of the woman who was killed in an accident with a self-driving Uber vehicle has sued Tempe and the state of Arizona for wrongful death.

Christine Wood and her father Rolf Ziemann claimed negligence caused Elaine Herzberg’s death March 18, 2018. The pair were seeking damages from a jury.

They filed Monday, the anniversary of Herzberg’s death.

Wood and Ziemann had filed a $10 million complaint against the East Valley city in early February. A complaint is generally a precursor to a lawsuit.

In that filing, they said the city was liable because it failed to “exercise reasonable care” around Mill Avenue near Curry Road, where Herzberg was struck at night.

The state was included because “Any oversight provided by a committee, ADOT, or DPS or City official was insufficient and placed an unreasonable (sic) high risk of harm to the citizens of Arizona,” according to the suit.

The family had already settled privately with Uber less than two weeks after the accident.

Dashcam video showed the backup driver looking down at her lap seconds before the crash. Phone records showed she was watching a TV show.

A Tempe Police report concluded the 10 p.m. accident was avoidable.

The National Transportation Safety Board, in a preliminary report issued in May, said the autonomous driving system spotted Herzberg about six seconds before hitting her.

The SUV did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled, the safety board said.

A review of the case conducted for the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office said earlier this month there was no reason to press criminal charges against Uber.

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