Tesla has made a public statement regarding claims by the Los Angeles Times regarding a recently concluded defamation suit against Elon Musk.
Elon Musk is no stranger to the courtroom, but luckily, he has recently been able to conclude a three-year defamation suit against him, with the plaintiff signing a “998” agreement, admitting defeat, and allowing Elon Musk to leave essentially without penalty. However, following the conclusion of this lawsuit, the LA Times published an article claiming Musk “elected to settle,” which has resulted in Tesla issuing an official statement on the matter.
The LA Times article titled “Musk said he’d never settle an unjust legal case against him. He just settled this one” was published yesterday and quickly gained traction, particularly within the community of those who are critical of Elon Musk. In the Times’ tweet regarding the article, it claimed that Elon Musk had been forced to accept defeat in the aforementioned defamation suit, resulting in a response from the Tesla Twitter account and a Community Note below its Tweet.
This article is biased and misleading. Mr. Hothi accepted a “998” offer under California law. These offers are used to shift the cost of litigation to the losing party. If Mr. Hothi had not accepted it, he could have been on the hook for significant legal costs when he eventually…
— Tesla (@Tesla) May 1, 2023
As noted by the official statement from Tesla, the plaintiff, Randeep Hothi, had signed the 998 agreement, which according to California law, “allow[s] judgment to be taken or an award to be entered in accordance with the terms and conditions stated at that time.” In this case, according to the automaker, the 998 involved Hothi agreeing that he “expressly denied any liability by Mr. Musk.”
The defamation case that the 998 agreement settles is regarding an email written by Elon Musk in 2019. In which the Tesla CEO alleged that Hothi “almost killed” a Tesla security guard. Hothi, at the time, was deeply involved in tracking Tesla production at the Tesla Fremont facility, which he hoped would prove that the Model 3 could not be built with such a limited staff and use of automation.
It should be noted that, despite signing the 998 agreement, Hothi’s lawyers took the news of the agreement as a win, going as far as commenting to the LA Times, “We welcome Musk’s belated acknowledgment that this case was just.”
The LA Times and Hothi’s lawyers are referring to a tweet from Elon Musk, published in 2022, in which he stated he would not back down from an unjust lawsuit.
– We will never seek victory in a just case against us, even if we will probably win.
– We will never surrender/settle an unjust case against us, even if we will probably lose.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2022
It remains unclear if Tesla or Elon Musk plans to retaliate legally regarding the statements made by the LA Times or Hothi’s lawyers. However, with the three-year court battle finally over, it’s unlikely that either side is looking to jump back into litigation.
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