By Ben Klayman
DETROIT (Reuters) - The driver was to blame in the fiery crash of a Porsche sports car that killed actor Paul Walker in California in 2013, not design defects with the car, attorneys for the German automaker said this week.
Walker was a passenger in a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT driven by Roger Rodas, who lost control of the vehicle before it careened into trees and a utility pole in Santa Clarita, northwest of Los Angeles, killing both men.
Rodas's widow filed a lawsuit against Porsche AG's <PSHG_p.DE> North American unit last year, alleging negligence and wrongful death among other claims.
Walker's death in November 2013 at the age of 40 led to a temporary halt in production of "Fast & Furious 7," the latest movie in the successful series about illegal street racing that helped popularize his career. The movie is set to open on Friday.
There was a ruling in the case in February in which the judge dismissed some of the plaintiff’s claims but said Porsche must face claims over whether the car was defectively designed and made. Porsche's attorneys in their response on Monday laid the blame on Rodas.
"Roger Rodas’s death, and all other injuries or damages claimed, were the result of Roger Rodas’s own comparative fault," the attorneys said.
Rodas "chose to conduct himself in a manner so as to expose himself and others to such perils, dangers and risks," they added.
The automaker's attorneys denied there were defects in the car, and said they believed the vehicle was "abused and altered" after being purchased in a way the company could not have foreseen and that could have been a factor in the accident.
In her lawsuit seeking unspecified damages, Rodas's widow alleged a suspension failure occurred on the car. Authorities ruled the crash was caused by excessive speed and not a mechanical failure.
(Additional reporting by Jessica Dye in New York)