Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., couldn’t turn the tables on a critic of the company who sued him for defamation.
A California judge rejected Musk’s argument that Randeep Hothi’s lawsuit was unfounded and should be discarded as an attempt to silence the billionaire’s freedom of speech.
Hothi, a University of Michigan graduate student known as “@skabooshka” on Twitter, caught anger two years ago after two incidents that Hothi claims are harmless.
In February 2019, Hothi was first confronted by a security officer when he showed up at the Tesla sales center in Fremont, California to conduct an investigation. In the second, in April 2019, Hothi said he was driving when he spotted a Tesla test car and took photos of it, which he later posted online.
Musk complained about Hothi in an email to an online tech editor, describing him as a liar and accusing him of “nearly” killing Tesla employees while trying to drive away from the sales center.
Hothi alleged that Musk sparked an online hate campaign against him in the complaint he filed with the Alameda County Supreme Court in August.
Musk asked the judge to strike the lawsuit on the grounds that what he said was a matter of public interest – a protected speech – and that Hothi could not prove that the statements were false or malicious.
In a brief written decision, Judge Julia Spain concluded that there are questions suitable for a trial to test whether Musk’s statements are true. She also said Hothi showed that he can likely win the lawsuit.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment after normal business hours.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)