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Tesla is seeking $167 million in damages from the former employee Elon Musk accused of sabotage

Lora Kolodny
  • Tesla is suing former employee Martin Tripp for more than $167 million, recent legal filings revealed.
  • Tripp and Tesla have been locked in a bitter legal battle since the spring when Tripp claimed the electric vehicle maker was using flawed battery manufacturing practices and hiding relevant info from shareholders.
  • Tesla has previously characterized Tripp as a disgruntled ex-employee, and CEO Elon Musk alluded to him as a "saboteur" in company-wide e-mails.

Tesla is seeking more than $167 million in a lawsuit against former employee Martin Tripp, recent legal filings revealed.

In the lawsuit, which was filed by the electric car maker in June, Tesla TSLA alleges that Tripp, a former process engineer, had illegally exported data and made false claims to reporters, among other things.

Tripp had earlier claimed in a number of press interviews that Tesla engaged in poor manufacturing practices at its massive battery plant outside of Reno, Nevada, and that it may have used damaged battery modules in its Model 3 vehicles, posing a risk to drivers.

An interim case management report published on November 27 reveals that Tripp's attorneys aim to depose Tesla CEO Elon Musk and more than 10 people involved with the company. Tesla has refused to make Musk available and sought to limit the number of people deposed by Tripp's defense team at the law firm Tiffany & Bosco.

Tripp's lawyers wrote in that report: "Tesla has objected to Mr. Tripp's desire to take more than ten depositions...In this case, where Mr. Tripp is being sued for more than $167,000,000 and has asserted counterclaims against Tesla, more than ten depositions is certainly reasonable and appropriate."

Tripp attorney Robert D. Mitchell said in an e-mail to CNBC: "The purported damage amount claimed by Tesla relates to supposed dips in Tesla's stock price by virtue of the information Mr. Tripp provided to the press last summer." He characterized the damage claims as "absurd."

Tesla declined to comment.

The suit in Nevada is separate from a whistleblower complaint involving Tripp . In early July, Tripp filed a formal complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that Tesla made "material omissions and misstatements" to investors relating to its flawed manufacturing practices and handling of scrap at the Gigafactory.

Tripp was represented by Meissner Associates in the whistleblower matter earlier, but is now representing himself, attorney Stuart Meissner told CNBC. Meissner declined to comment further. Tripp also declined requests for comment.




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