Judge dismisses Tesla lawsuit against former employee, dismisses defamation suit

Judge narrows Tesla lawsuit against former employee, dismisses defamation counterclaim

By Jonathan Stampel

(Reuters) – A federal judge has ruled in favor of Tesla Inc. Filed a case against a former employee alleging hacking into his computer and leaking proprietary data to a journalist. The judge also dismissed a defamation suit by a former employee.

In a ruling Thursday, Miranda Du, chief justice of the federal court in Reno, Nevada, said Tesla failed to show that the disclosure of Martin Trip’s intelligence had reduced the market value of the electric car manufacturer by 16 7,167 million.

But she declined to deny several other Tesla claims, including that Tripp’s alleged use of unauthorized data may have violated Nevada computer crime law, and justified punitive damages by its principal.

Four statements made by Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk or Tesla’s communications staff led to defamation claims, but Du said there was nothing wrong and the trip did not show actual abuse.

Tripp worked as a process technician at Tesla’s Gigafactory near Reno.

Tesla fired him on June 19, 2018, a day before the lawsuit was filed.

On Friday, Tripp declined to comment on the decision. He represents himself in this case, according to court records.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In its complaint, Tesla wrote on the trip to hack into its manufacturing operating operating system, and to share stolen data with people outside the company and make false claims to the media about the information stolen by it.

Due said Tripp argued that he was a “whistle blower” who “identified production inadequacies and delays in Tesla’s week-long race to build Model, 000 model doll cars.”

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Tesla, by contrast, believed that Trip had reached the wrong conclusion about the effectiveness of the GigaFactory’s assembly line, the judge wrote.

The case is Tesla Inc. vs. Trip, U.S. District Court, Nevada District, No. 18-00296.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stampel in New York and Ishwarya Nair in Bangalore; Editing by Anil de Silva and Chizu Nomiyama)

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