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Ex-Tesla Factory Worker to Pay $400,000 Over Feud With Musk (1)

Dec. 1, 2020, 3:36 PM

A former Tesla Inc. employee who locked horns with Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has agreed to pay the company $400,000 for telling reporters about production delays at its Gigafactory in Nevada, according to a court filing.

The payment is part of a proposed settlement of a lawsuit Tesla filed in 2018 that accused Martin Tripp of illegally divulging trade secrets about the production of Tesla’s Model 3.

As part of the accord, Tripp admitted to violating trade secret laws and confidentiality agreements. He also owes Tesla an additional $25,000 for previously revealing information about the company, despite being ordered to stop by a judge.

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Tripp was a process technician at Tesla’s Gigafactory from 2017 to 2018. While still at the company, he sent emails to reporters saying that it would be unable to reach Musk’s publicly stated goal of producing 5,000 Model 3s a week.

Tesla fired Tripp when the company found out he was the source of the information. Subsequently, he and Musk publicly traded insults.

Tripp countersued Musk for defamation, but the federal judge handling the case threw it out, ruling that the technician had failed to show that the CEO had acted with actual malice.

The case is Tesla Inc. v. Tripp, 3:18-cv-00296, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Reno).

(Updates to clarify details of accord in third paragraph)

--With assistance from Dana Hull.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Robert Burnson in San Francisco at rburnson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net

Joe Schneider, Peter Blumberg

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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