Elon Musk loses round one to Indian American student who sued him

By Gitanjali Mangal -- January 29, 2021 7:09 pm -- Updated:January 29, 2021 8:20 pm

Elon Musk, Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer has failed to turn the tables on a critic of the company who sued him for defamation.

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A California state judge has rejected Musk's argument that the suit filed by Randeep Hothi was baseless and should be thrown out as an attempt to silence the billionaire's free speech.

Randeep Hothi, a University of Michigan graduate student known as "@skabooshka" on Twitter, drew Musk's wrath two years ago after two incidents, both of which Hothi claims were harmless.

In the first, in February 2019, Hothi was confronted by a security guard when he showed up to do research, he says -- at the Tesla sales center in Fremont, California. In the second, in April 2019, Hothi said he was driving when he spotted a Tesla test car and took photos of it, which he later posted online.

Musk complained about Randeep Hothi in an email to an online tech editor, describing him as a liar and accusing him of "almost" killing Tesla employees when he was trying to drive away from the sales center.

Hothi claimed that Musk triggered an online hate campaign against him in the complaint he filed in August in Alameda County Superior Court.

Musk asked the judge to strike the lawsuit on the grounds that what he said involved a matter of public interest and making it protected speech, also that Hothi couldn't prove the statements were untrue or made with malice.

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In a brief written ruling, Judge Julia Spain concluded there are issues suitable for a trial over whether Elon Musk's statements were true. She also said Hothi showed that he can probably win the lawsuit.

-PTC News

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