Written by Jonathan Stampel
(Reuters) – Tesla Inc. on a former employee
At one point Thursday, Chief Justice Miranda Du of the Federal Court in Reno, Nevada, said that Tesla had failed to show that the disclosure of Martin Trip’s secret information caused the electric car manufacturer’s market value to fall by $ 167 million.
But he declined to dismiss some other Tesla claims, in which Trip’s use of unauthorized data may have violated Nevada computer criminal law, and his conduct justified punitive damages.
The defamation claim arose from four statements made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk or Tesla’s communications staff, but Du said nothing was false and that Tripal could do no real harm.
Trip worked as a process technician at Tesla’s Gigafactory near Renault.
Tesla fired him on June 19, 2018, a day before he was due to file his lawsuit.
Trip declined to comment Friday on the decision. According to court records, he is representing himself in this case.
Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In his complaint, Tesla accused Trip of writing software to hack his production system, sharing stolen data with people outside the company, and making false claims to the media about the information he had stolen.
Dupp said Trip was a “whistleblower” who discovered “productivity and delays in Tesla’s race to produce 5,000 Model 3 cars a week.”
In contrast, Tesla believed that Tripp had reached wrong conclusions about the performance of Gigafactory’s assembly lines, the judge wrote.
Case Tesla Inc. v. Trip, U.S. District Court, Nevada District, No. 18-00296.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stampel in New York and Aishwarya Nair in Bangalore; Editing by Anil De Silva and Sisu Nomiyama)