More litigation over 2018 Tesla crash that injured Aspen teens |

More litigation over 2018 Tesla crash that injured Aspen teens

Tracks from a Tesla driven by Joseph Lipsey IV show where he missed a turn on Maroon Creek Road near T-Lazy 7 Ranch and flew down an embankment into the river in November 2018.
Anna Stonehouse / The Aspen Times file

Members of a former Aspen family are defendants in a second negligence lawsuit filed against them over a car crash on Maroon Creek Road three years ago.

A civil complaint was filed last week by one of the passengers in a 2017 Tesla driven by Joseph Lipsey IV, who was operating the vehicle at high speeds when it missed a turn and crashed, sliding nearly 40 feet off the road and then another 170-feet plus down an embankment before coming to a final rest in Maroon Creek.

The crash occurred on Maroon Creek Road near T-Lazy 7 Ranch at approximately 7:55 p.m. Nov. 7, 2018. Road conditions were safe at the time, and two of the Tesla’s five teenage occupants were seriously injured.

The lawsuit was filed Nov. 2 on behalf of one of the passengers who was 17 years old at the time of the crash. The complaint named Lipsey IV and his parents, Joseph Lipsey III and Shira Lipsey, as defendants, as well as the family company American Emergency Response, a water and ice supply business.

The suit alleged that Lipsey IV was driving the Tesla at speeds topping 90 mph on Maroon Creek Road where the posted speed limit is 35 mph.

“After the crash, the teens had to escape from the Tesla, as it was filling with icy creek water,” said the suit, adding that the plaintiff both called 911 and tried to free another passenger trapped in the vehicle.

“A good Samaritan stopped and helped the teens,” said the complaint, which was filed by the Denver-area firm The Dan Caplis Law Firm LLC in Pitkin County District Court. “It took nearly 30 excruciating minutes for first responders to arrive and provide aid.”

The plaintiff was hospitalized with injuries that included a a left clavicle fracture and a facial/left orbit (eye) blowout fracture, the suit said.

The Lipsey couple was sentenced in July to one year on probation and 200 hours of community service each after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count each of providing alcohol to minors. Those charges were not related to the November 2018 crash, but instead a January 2019 party.

Lipsey IV, who was 18 years old and driving without a license at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty in May 2020 to felony vehicular assault, as well as to misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment and drug possession. He was sentenced to probation for two years.

The suit’s claims include negligence against Lipsey IV and negligence per se against his parents. As well, the parents are being sued under “family car doctrine,” meaning that as heads of the household, they allowed their son to engage in negligent and reckless conduct. The parents had a permissive home environment where teens partied with substances, the suit said.

“The Lipsey home on Prospector Road was known by teens as a ‘party house’ where teens could go to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana,” the suit said.

Along similar lines, the parents are accused of negligent entrustment. As well, their American Emergency Response company is on the hook negligent entrustment.

“Defendant American Emergency Response … knew or reasonably should have known, that Defendants Lipsey IV had (tendencies) to drive the Tesla in a manner that created an unreasonable risk of harm to others,” said the suit.

In September, another injured party sued the family in Pitkin County District Court, alleging that the plaintiff/passenger “lost consciousness from the crash and her injuries, but awoke and was able to escape the flooding Tesla in freezing temperatures. Instead of assisting the other passengers, Defendant Joseph Lipsey IV left the car and all other individuals. … Joseph Lipsey IV did not help any of his passengers.”

That suit has been served on the defendants. As of Friday, an attorney had not entered an appearance on their behalf and an answer to the complaint had not been filed, according to a court clerk. The Lipseys currently live in Tennessee.


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