Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has settled a long-standing defamation case with Randeep Hothi, a vocal critic and member of the TSLAQ short-seller community on Twitter, reportedly for $10k. Musk requested to settle the case, which has been ongoing for three years, in March this year, according to a statement by Hothi’s lawyers. Hothi, who was once a skeptic of Tesla’s gigafactory plans and “full self-driving” tech, said on Twitter on Monday that he had accepted Musk’s alleged offer and “look[s] forward to receiving a check from him in the mail.”
In 2019, Tesla attempted to obtain a permanent restraining order against Hothi, alleging that he had “stalked, harassed, and endangered” Tesla employees while they were out driving in a Model 3. Additionally, Tesla accused Hothi of trespassing on, and installing cameras around, its Fremont, California, facility. Hothi’s “defense fund” on GoFundMe aimed to raise $100,000, and ultimately secured $229,592. Tesla later dropped its case against Hothi without publicly disclosing any evidence to support its allegations.
However, the case took another turn a month later when Musk claimed in an email to another vocal critic of the company, Aaron Greenspan, that Hothi had “almost killed Tesla employees.” Greenspan published the email, and Hothi sued Musk for defamation in the Alameda Superior Court of California. Hothi’s lawyers claimed that Musk’s comment “prompted an onslaught of hateful Twitter response,” with the CEO’s supporters accusing Hothi of being a liar, a murderer, a terrorist, and a deranged maniac. Lawyers representing Musk petitioned the court to dismiss the case, but it ultimately moved forward to discovery.
Approximately a year ago, Musk tweeted that Tesla would “never surrender/settle an unjust case against us, even if we will probably lose.” Hothi’s lawyers cited this tweet in a statement on Monday, saying, “We welcome Musk’s belated acknowledgment that this case was just.” Court documents show that Hothi’s lawyers filed a request to dismiss the case on the day of the settlement.