Tesla CEO Elon Musk lost the round one of battle with the critic of his company who had sued him for defamation. A California judge has denied SpaceX founder’s request to reject the lawsuit filed by Randeep Hothi, a Tesla short-seller who had said in August 2020 that Musk had defamed him and even hampered his reputation by writing an email claiming that Hothi has “almost killed Tesla employees”. The Tesla CEO had attempted to overturn the lawsuit but his remained unsuccessful.
As per the Bloomberg report, US judge Julia Spain of Alameda County Superior Court in California dismissed the claims made by Elon Musk that Hothi’s lawsuit was baseless and an attempt to stifle Tesla CEO’s free speech. As per reports, in a ruling published on January 27, the judge said that there were grounds for a trial and added that Hothi could win.
Spain has ruled that Musk’s remarks about the Tesla critic were not protected under California’s Anti-SLAPP statute that allows lawsuits to be dismissed quickly if they interfere with the defendant’s free speech because Tesla did not showcase that Musk’s remarks came in connection with a matter of public interest.
As per reports, Randeep Hothi is a University of Michigan graduate student who drew Elon Musk’s wrath at least two years ago following two separate incidents including Hothi’s harmless claims. Firstly, in February 2019, Hothi was confronted by a security guard when he went to do research reportedly at Tesla sales centre in Fremont, California. Secondly, in April 2019, Hothi said he was driving when he had spotted a Tesla test car, took photos of it and posted online.
In the wake of the incidents, Musk has complained about Hothi in an e-mail to an online tech editor describing Hothi as ‘liar’ and accused him of “almost killing Tesla employees” while driving away from the sales centre. However, Hothi claimed that Musk had unleashed an online hate campaign against him and filed the lawsuit in August in Alameda county superior court. But, Tesla CEO asked the judge to strike the lawsuit on the grounds that his remarks were a matter of public interest.