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Former Tesla employee agrees to pay $ 400,000 in lawsuits for stealing trade secret



Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk speaks at the opening ceremony of the China-made Model Y program in Shanghai, China, January 7, 2020. REUTERS / Aly Song
Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk speaks at the opening ceremony of the China-made Model Y program in Shanghai, China, January 7, 2020. REUTERS / Aly Song

Former employee of Tesla Inc. (TSLA) and a self-proclaimed informant agreed to pay the electric car maker $ 400,000 to settle the company̵

7;s lawsuit over allegations that the former employee’s disclosure of confidential information had reduced his share price by $ 167 million

As part of the agreement, the former employee also acknowledged that the counterclaims raised in response to the lawsuit were funded by a short seller from Tesla Cable Car Capital LLC.

Tesla sued Martin Tripp, a former employee of Nevada Gigafactory, in 2018, alleging that he hacked a confidential production operating system, stole more than a few gigabytes of data and revealed trade secrets to a news reporter.

The company also alleges that Tripp lied to the media, claiming that the punctured battery cells were installed in certain Model 3 vehicles delivered to unsuspecting customers – a claim that Tesla denies. Tesla also says Tripp exaggerates the levels of scrap used in the vehicle production process.

In addition to the larger agreement, Tripp also agreed to pay Tesla $ 25,000 in fines based on Tripp’s violation of the Nevada District Court’s protective order requiring him to refrain from disclosing information related to confidential documents. . Trip also agreed to destroy all documents he had acquired through his work at Tesla.

Sharp drop in share price during “two short windows”

In September, a court approved Tesla’s request to drop Tripp’s counterclaims, alleging that the company’s CEO Elon Musk and others at Tesla had slandered him and cast him in a false light in various emails and tweets.

Yahoo Finance requested comment from Tesla, as well as Tripp and Cable Car Capital, and will update this story with the responses it receives.

LR: Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Tesla CTO JB Straubel and Panasonic Senior Advisor Yoshi Yamada attend a press conference at Tesla Gigafactory near Sparks, Nevada, USA, July 26, 2016. REUTERS / James Glover II
LR: Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Tesla CTO JB Straubel and Panasonic Senior Advisor Yoshi Yamada attend a press conference at Tesla Gigafactory near Sparks, Nevada, USA, July 26, 2016. REUTERS / James Glover II

Tripp’s revelations, Tesla claims, caused Tesla’s market capitalization to drop by $ 167 million over the two-day period in June 2018. The company also said it had made about $ 250,000 to investigate the issue and was required to pay 7 $ 385 for salaries that Tripp should not have had was paid based on his alleged breach of loyalty. Tesla’s damage analyst has suggested that the $ 167 million drop is due to two articles written by Linette Lopez of Business Inisider, one on June 4 calling Tesla’s production a “nightmare” and the other on June 6 claiming that its Gigafactory robots are still not working.

“For the short trading period between June 4 and June 6, until the end of the NASDAQ trading day, Tesla’s market capitalization fell by $ 34 million and $ 134 million, or $ 167 million, respectively. dollars in total for these two short time windows, “the statement said.

In August 2019, Tripp’s then-lawyer, Robert Mitchell, told Yahoo Finance: “We think this is phantom damage.”

In lawsuits, Tripp denied Tesla’s allegations. In July 2018, he submitted formal advice to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which repeated allegations made to the media, including allegations that Tesla lied to investors about its production numbers.

Tesla described Trip as a low-performing former employee who was disappointed after he was fired from the company.

Previous tweets posted to Tripp’s Twitter account, which allegedly show images of Tesla’s punctured batteries, have been removed.

Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow Alexis on Twitter @alexiskweed.

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