As Automotive News reports, the first trial that may decide whether or not Tesla Autopilot was responsible for a fatality is likely to call Tesla CEO Elon Musk, as well as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advisor Mary "Missy" Cummings to the witness box. The trial is set to begin in January 2022.
Cummings was just recently appointed as an advisor to NHTSA, which came under much scrutiny from some vocal Tesla fans and owners. She's got an incredible resume, though Tesla supporters have pointed out that she's been openly critical of Elon Musk, as well as Tesla in general. Musk himself has actually chimed in about Cummings:
At this point, people's personal opinions about Musk and Cummings don't matter, though past words from both potential witnesses could certainly impact a jury's decision on the matter. What does matter is that the two may have to provide testimony in the Autopilot case.
Jeremy Banner died in 2019 after his Model 3 hit a semi-truck trailer in Florida. Banner's lawyers have added Elon Musk to their list of possible witnesses for the trial. In addition, Automotive News claims that the Banner family has already hired Missy Cummings to testify.
It's important to note that attorneys for Tesla and Musk could work to get Musk removed from the witness list. The publication notes that the lawyers have already convinced a judge on the case to "deny a request by Banner’s family to depose Musk during the evidence-gathering process before trial."
At the time of writing, Tesla and its attorneys hadn't responded to a request for comment. For those interested in following the case, it's listed as follows via Automotive News: Banner v. Tesla Inc., 50-2019-CA-0099662, Circuit Court of 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County, Fla.