Is Randeep Hothi a stalker, a harasser, a perpetrator of violence and an immediate threat? Or is he a gentle scientist engaged in legal, albeit unorthodox, research for his investments?
Is Tesla's Elon Musk an intimidator who uses his wealth, power, and Twitter account to silence critics? Or is he just trying to protect his employees from possible damage?
These questions are being brought before a US court in which Tesla is seeking a permanent injunction against Hothi.
Tesla says Hothi hit a Tesla security guard with his car At the company's California assembly plant, he later threatened workers in a Tesla Model 3, driverless technology at highway speeds on Interstate 880 between Fremont and the Oakland side of the Bay Bridge tested.
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Hothi, a graduate student at the University of Michigan and Tesla Critic, who lives near the Fremont plant, says Tesla is lying to smear him and silence him.
] The case lasted As Judge Jeffrey Brand last week supported a request from his attorneys that Tesla should post video footage relevant to the case, he favored Hothi. Brand ordered Tesla to submit the videos ̵
Tesla asked the judge to exclude the media from future hearings. The judge refused.
Hothi belongs to a Twitter group of short sellers and other Tesla critics known as $ TslaQ. Participants monitor Tesla for shortcomings in the business model and show that the company's share price, based on its business fundamentals, is well above expected. Many of them, including Hothi, have bet on falling stock prices – most of which has been the case lately. It closed at $ 230.34 on Monday, a decline of 1.2 percent a day and 27 percent year-to-date.
Another member of the group, Lawrence Fossi, an investment manager specializing in Twitter at Montana Skeptic, founded a GoFundMe site for Hothi's legal fees. So far, $ 118,000 has been raised.
According to Hothi's response to Tesla's allegations, "Tesla has in the past silenced the legal system to silence its critics." The document referred to the widespread story of Martin Tripp, a former employee who became a whistleblower. He said Tesla knowingly made and sold defective batteries. "Tesla's CEO Musk wanted to destroy him," it says in the court's response.
Tesla sued Tripp for $ 167 million. An anonymous caller had contacted the company to announce that Tripp was planning a mass shooting, a report that was forwarded to the police. According to Bloomberg Businessweek "Tesla's public relations department spread rumors that Tripp may have been deadly and part of a big conspiracy," and the company released another whistleblower, former Tesla security manager Sean Gouthro.
Tesla said at the time when the allegations regarding Tripp were "untrue and sensational". The case is pending at the US District Court in Nevada.
After Fossi's identity was revealed last year, Musk Fossi's boss called and threatened to sue. And Hothi's court case raised the case of Tesla Regional Manager Adam Williams, who told supervisors that employees knowingly sold defective cars. The document states that Williams was downgraded and later released. He sued Tesla last year. Tesla said at the time that Williams was dismissed for poor performance and that his suit had "no merit" and "it also contradicts the fact that we have the highest customer satisfaction of a car brand".
Musk, open Twitter's contempt for short sellers may be particularly vulnerable to criticism of the company's autonomous driving technique, a key strategic program whose successes and failures will inevitably impact the company's share price.
Hothi had an eye on production at Tesla's assembly counting cars to match Tesla's production demands. He often took photos from outside the work and sometimes positioned a camera (on public grounds, he said) to record activities from a distance. He published his observations under the Twitter handle Skabooshka.
On February 21, Hothi was sitting in his car in a public area of the parking lot at the Fremont plant near a Tesla sales showroom. When Tesla was confronted by a security guard, he said in court records that Hothi had "fled the scene" and hit "Tesla's security guard Tyler James in his car," resulting in "minor injuries."
Fremont police reviewed the case and concluded that this was the case The police sent the case to the district attorney's office, which denied the charge because there was insufficient evidence that Hothi James hit his car had to court records. Hothi did not return to the Fremont plant after that day, his lawyer said.
According to Tesla, on April 16, three employees were sitting in a Model 3 equipped with camera equipment and testing the autonomous driving capabilities of the car. The company said in court records that Hothi "persecuted" the staff for 35 minutes, "before, next to, and behind them, driving dangerously close to the vehicle," perhaps triggering a reaction from the car's autonomous system. The staff feared that Hothi's "street behavior would lead to a collision and hurt her". Hothi said these statements are wrong.
In a court hearing, Hothi's lawyer said, "Randeep has critically researched Tesla's extravagant claims about the capabilities of his 'fully self-propelled' systems.
" I did not waver at all, "Hothi said in an interview He assumed that the video footage recorded that day would be used as marketing material, said D. Gill Sperlein, Hothi's lawyer.Hothi intended to record the car's journey to compare it to any edited version that Tesla would have in the future
Following this incident, Tesla applied for and obtained an injunction against Hothi.
Sperlein cited the mounted camera system The case was heard in a court specializing in workplace harassment and other harassment cases of interim injunctions On the same day the Hothi hearings began, listen Judge Brand recorded a case involving a row between a bus driver and a retired bus driver who ended in punching, and another involving a long-running dispute between two older neighbors, one of whom allegedly was swinging his gun as a gun and the other pulled out a knife and vowed to "cut you like a fish". In order to speed up such cases, a legal detection – the collection of evidence from the other side – is usually not allowed.
In Tesla's case, however, the judge made an exception, writing despite the Company's objections based on confidentiality and privacy, inter alia: "The production of such records would impose a minimal burden on the parties."
He added, "If a party owned such records and decided not to present them in court, the court could do so would tend to have a negative impact."
Hothi said The Times he believes there is no video showing him driving as Tesla claims.
Tesla did not respond to requests for comments.
The next trial is scheduled for July 26th.