Is Randeep Hothi a stalker, a harassment, an offender and an imminent threat? Or is he a gentle graduate involved in legal if unorthodox research for his investments?
Is Teslas Elon Musk an intimidator who uses his wealth, power and Twitter account to chalk critics? Or is he just trying to protect his employees from possible harm?
These questions are asked in a US court where Tesla is seeking a permanent detention order against Hothi.
Tesla says Hothi hit a Tesla security officer with his car at the company's assembly plant in California, and later threatened workers in a Tesla Model 3, which tested driverless technology at highway speeds on Interstate 880 between Fremont and Oakland side of Bay. Bridge.
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Hothi, a PhD student at the University of Michigan and the Tesla critic who lives near the Fremont facility , says Tesla is lying to smear him and close him. [1
Tesla asked the judge to carry the media from future hearings. The judge refused to do so.
Hothi is part of a Twitter group of short sellers and other Tesla critics known as $ TslaQ. Participants monitor Tesla for errors in its business model and evidence that the company's share price is much higher than it should be based on business. Many of them, including Hothi, have been betting on the falling stock price – as it has done most recently. It closed at US $ 230.34 on Monday, down 1.2%. By day and 27 per cent Year to date.
Another member of the group, Lawrence Fossi, an investment manager passing Twitter Skeptic on Twitter, creates a GoFundMe page for Hothi's legal expenses. So far, it has raised US $ 118,000.
According to Hothi's right answer to Tesla's accusations, "Tesla has a story of using the justice system to silence his critics." The document pointed to the widespread history of Martin Tripp, a former whistleblower employee, and said that Tesla deliberately produced and sold defective batteries. "Tesla CEO Musk set out to destroy him," the court replied.
Tesla sued Tripp for US $ 167 million. An anonymous caller had contacted the company to say that Tripp was planning a mass shooter, a report that was forwarded to the police. According to Bloomberg Businessweek Tesla's PR department tells that Tripp may have been homicidal and had been part of a large conspiracy "and the company fired another whistleblower, former Tesla security chief Sean Gouthro.
Tesla said at the time when Tripp claims were "untrue and sensational." The case is pending in the US District Court in Nevada.
After Fossi & # 39; s identity was revealed last year, Musk called Fossi & # 39; s boss and And Hothi's lawsuit filed the case of Tesla Regional Manager Adam Williams, who reported to the manager that employees deliberately sell defective cars, the document said Williams was demoted and later fired, he sued Tesla last year, Tesla said at that time Williams was fired only for poor performance and that his dress had "no profit" and "it is also contrary to the fact that we are the highest in customer satisfaction of any car brand e ".
Musk openly scorned by short sellers on Twitter, can be particularly sensitive to criticism of the company's autonomous driving technology, an important strategic program whose successes and failures must affect the company's share price.
Hothi had watched the production in Tesla's assembly plant, which counts cars to match Tesla's production requirements. He often took photographs right outside the facility and sometimes placed a camera (on public property, he said) for remote shooting of activity. He published his observations under the Twitter handle Skabooshka.
On February 21, Hothi sat in his car in a public area at the Fremont factory's parking lot near a Tesla sales hall. When Tesla is confronted with a security guard, Tesla said in court documents that Hothi "escaped the scene" and "hit Tesla's security officer Tyler James with his car," resulting in "minor injuries".
The Fremont police reviewed the case and concluded it did not meet the elements of a hit and run, according to court records filed by Hothi's lawyer.
Police forwarded the case to the county district law office, which refused to prosecute, stating that there was insufficient evidence that Hothi hit James with his car, according to the Court's records. Hothi never returned to the Fremont factory after that day, his lawyer said.
16th April, according to Tesla, three employees sat in a Model 3 fitted with camera equipment, while they tested the car's autonomous driving characteristics. The company said in court that Hothi "persecuted" employees for 35 minutes, "driving in front, next to and behind them and swearing dangerously close to the vehicle", perhaps to trigger a response from the car's autonomous system. The employees feared that Hothi's "road behavior would cause a collision and damage them". Hothi said these statements are false.
Hothi's lawyer said in a legal answer, "Randeep critically criticized Tesla's extravagant claims" about the capabilities of its "full self-propelled" systems.
"I didn't swing any vehicle at all," Hothi said in an interview. He assumed that video footage was shot, that day would be used as marketing material, said D. Gill Sperlein, Hothi's lawyer. Hothi intended to register the car's journey to compare it with any edited version that Tesla could show in the future.
Following this incident, Tesla sought and was granted a temporary detention order against Hothi.
Sperlein quoted the camera system mounted on the test wagon and the eight cameras typically installed on all Teslas to enable autonomous driving, in his request that the company provide images for use as evidence.
The case is being tried in a court specializing in harassment at work and other cases involving requests for detention orders. On the same day, Hothi hearings began that Judge Brand heard a case involving an argument between a bus driver and a retired bus driver who ended up with fist cakes, and the other involved a prolonged conflict between two older neighbors, allegedly burning his hike as a weapon and the other pulled a knife and promised to "cut you open like a fish". To speed up such cases, legal discovery – the process of collecting evidence from the other side – is usually not allowed.
However, in Tesla's case, the judge made an exception and wrote it despite the company's objections based on confidentiality and privacy, inter alia "The production of such recordings would impose a minimal burden on the parties."
He added: "If any party was in possession of such recordings and decided not to present them to court, then the court could tend to have a negative influence."
Hothi told The Times he does not believe there is any video showing that he is running as Tesla claims.
Tesla did not respond to requests for comments.
The next hearing is scheduled for July 26.