“I feel vindicated,” says Randeep Hothi claiming the case wasn’t about seeking fame or money
Elon Musk has agreed to pay $10,000 to his Indian American critic Randeep Hothi to settle a defamation lawsuit accusing the Tesla CEO of smearing him with false allegations that he menaced the electric-car makerâ€™s employees.
Musk had accused Hothi of “almost” killing Tesla employees in a 2019 email to a tech editor, thereby triggering an online hate campaign, the lawsuit claimed.
Read: Musk fires many Indian employees, Twitterati remains divided (November 5, 2022)
“I feel vindicated,” Hothi said, adding that the case wasn’t about seeking fame or money.
Hothi got into a court skirmish with Tesla in California after he gained a following on Twitter under the handle â€œSkabooshkaâ€ calling out the companyâ€™s rocky production of its Model 3 sedan in 2018.
Hothi grew up near Teslaâ€™s factory in Fremont, where he monitored production output using cameras and drones and his on-the-ground research caught the attention of several hedge funds.
In 2019 Tesla sought a restraining order against Hothi over claims he stalked its factory and harassed its employees â€” including dangerously swerving his car toward a Model 3 that was on a freeway test drive and injuring a Tesla security guard in a hit-and-run on company property.
Hothi denied those allegations and Tesla dropped its court complaint, but Hothi claimed in a 2020 defamation suit that Muskâ€™s public criticism of him triggered an online hate campaign in which he was accused of being â€œa liar, a murderer, a terrorist, and a deranged maniac.â€
Hothi said in a statement issued by his lawyers Monday that the settlement achieves his goal to clear his name and he tweeted about being vindicated.
â€œIn March 2023, Musk asked me to settle. I believe my work is now vindicated,” he tweeted. “For several reasons, I have decided to accommodate Musk (for a modest $10k). I now join the rest of you who are watching his public meltdown in real time.â€
Gil Sperlein, one of Hothiâ€™s attorneys, stated his client accepted Muskâ€™s offer to settle the case. A court filing Monday indicates Hothi is dropping the case, but doesnâ€™t disclose the terms of settlement.
The case was scheduled to go to trial this year in Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward.