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Tesla wins key ruling in legal battle against former employee

Enlarge / The Tesla Gigafactory under construction in 2016. Tripp would start work there the following year. (credit: Troy Harvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A federal judge in Nevada has thrown out a defamation case by former Tesla employee Martin Tripp against his former employer. At the same time, Judge Miranda Du refused to dismiss Tesla’s charge that Tripp had violated Nevada’s computer crime law when he provided confidential Tesla information to a reporter.

Tripp came to public attention in the spring of 2018 when he told several news organizations—including Ars Technica—that he had evidence that Tesla was wasting raw materials and exaggerating its progress toward producing 5,000 Model 3 cars per week. When a friend of Tripp’s called Tesla to warn that Tripp was heavily armed and might “come back and shoot people,” Tesla repeated the claim to news organizations. The accusation proved unfounded.

Tesla sued Tripp for violating trade secret and computer crime laws. Tripp counter-sued for defamation over the shooting claims. In a Thursday ruling, Du dismissed Tripp’s defamation claims but let some of Tesla’s claims move forward to trial.

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