Ex-Nevada Tesla worker sues for $1M in defamation damages

Updated August 2, 2018 - 10:21 pm

RENO, Nev. — A former Tesla Inc. employee at the electric car maker’s battery plant in Nevada is seeking at least $1 million in defamation damages after it accused him of sabotage, hacking into computers and stealing confidential information leaked to the media.

Lawyers for Martin Tripp filed a counterclaim in federal court this week alleging any damages Tesla incurred were caused or contributed to by Tesla’s “own negligence, acts or omissions.”

Tripp alleges that between $150 million and $200 million worth of battery module parts for Tesla’s Model 3 vehicle were incorrectly handled as scrap earlier this year. He said more than 700 dented and/or punctured battery modules were not discarded and instead were being shipped or were in the process of being shipped to customers.

A punctured battery could pose a fire risk.

Tesla officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press on Thursday.

Tripp said he was recruited by Tesla, moved to Sparks, Nevada, from Wisconsin and started working at the battery factory in October 2017 as a lead process engineering technician. He was fired June 19.

Tesla filed the lawsuit against Tripp on June 20, three days after Musk warned employees of sabotage from within the company.

In the months prior, Tripp witnessed “several concerning business practices” inconsistent with Tesla’s representations to investors and the general public, according to his counterclaim filed in U.S. District Court in Reno on Tuesday.

Tripp said he repeatedly questioned supervisors about the large quantities of waste and scrap vehicle parts he observed “lying haphazardly on the ground inside the Gigafactory.” But his concerns were never addressed or resolved, Tripp said.

Tripp said he emailed CEO Elon Musk directly about his concerns on May 16 before Musk was scheduled to visit the factory east of Sparks that night. Later that day, Tripp said his manager asked him to forward the email he sent to Musk “so that I can avoid getting fired tonight,” according to the lawsuit.

His counterclaim says a design engineer also told Tripp to clean up the production line area so Musk wouldn’t see the mounds of scrap and waste lying on the ground, but Tripp declined to do so because he wanted Musk “to see how the Gigafactory was actually being operated.” He said he was reassigned to a different position the following day.

Tesla’s original lawsuit said Tripp admitted to Tesla investigators that he wrote software that transferred several gigabytes of data outside the company, including dozens of photographs and a video, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday. Hacking software from Tripp also was running on three computer systems of other employees “so that the data would be exported even after he left the company and so that those individuals would be falsely implicated,” the lawsuit alleged.

The lawsuit said Tripp made false claims about the information he stole, including claims that Tesla used punctured battery cells in the Model 3, and claims about the amount and value of scrap material generated by Tesla’s manufacturing process. Some of the claims made it into media stories about the company, but media organizations are not identified in the lawsuit.

Tripp, a former aviation electronics technician in the U.S. Navy who worked two decades in the electronic and engineering industries, said in his counterclaim he “did not sabotage Tesla or its operations” and his actions “were necessary, reasonable and/or privileged.”

He acknowledged in the counterclaim that he had made claims about the scrap and punctured battery cells being used in Model 3 vehicles. But he said he did not direct code changes to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System under false user names or export large amounts of highly sensitive Tesla data as Musk had asserted.

After he was reassigned to a new position, Tripp “learned of and witnessed additional unnerving, dangerous and wasteful business practices,” including employees systematically reusing parts and battery cells that had been previously discarded as waste, the suit said.

The scrap problem dramatically increased in March 2018 when Tesla initiated a company-wide effort to reach its publicized goal of producing 2,500 Model 3 vehicles per week, the lawsuit said. It said the production push — with an objective of making 5,000 vehicles per week by July 2018 — was known as the “March to 2,500.”

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Happie Home Startup Establishing Headquarters In Las Vegas
Digital companion startup company Happie Home is establishing its headquarters in Las Vegas after receiving tax abatements from the Governor's Office of Economic Development on Nov. 15. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center will showcase 13 small businesses in November and December and seven in January. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
T-Mobile uses ticketing data to plan for event
T-Mobile Executive Director of Arena Operations explains how ticket sales data and demographics help plan staffing, vendors, parking and operations for an event.
Costco opens its doors in southwest Henderson
Costco has opened its fifth Las Vegas-area location near the intersection of St. Rose Parkway and Amigo Street. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas strip mall and office park
The Krausz Cos. and WG Group bought a strip mall and an office park in Las Vegas for nearly $80 million total. They acquired a portion of Tropicana Beltway Center in the southwest valley for $59 million. They also acquired the Westbay office complex in the Las Vegas Medical District. The buyers are former owners of The Gramercy, a once-mothballed mixed-use project in the Las Vegas suburbs. They sold The Gramercy in phases for more than $100 million.
Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry
Celebrity tattoo artist and business owner Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry at The World of Tattoo industry trade show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
$7.5M Las Vegas pot dispensary opens near Las Vegas Strip
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. It has entertainment including an interactive floor and floating orbs. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars CEO to step down next year
Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora will leave the casino company in February. Frissora has been CEO since July 2015. He was named CEO right after Caesars' operating company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2017 Before Caesars, Frissora spent seven years as chairman and CEO of Naples, Fla.,-based Hertz He led the consolidation of the rental-car industry through Hertz‘s acquisition of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
Planet 13 in Las Vegas adds twist to marijuana dispensary look
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. The dispensary is located near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, near Trump International, in Las Vegas. Planet 13 has plans in the future for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on site if that is legalized and space for food.
Caesars Entertainment opening 2 resorts in Dubai
Cove Beach will open on Meraas’ Bluewaters Island in Dubai in November and Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai will open in December. (Caesars Entertainment)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like