Elon Musk reportedly settles defamation suit after saying he'd never 'surrender an unjust case'
A defamation case brought against Tesla chief executive Elon Musk by critic Randeep Hothi is coming to a close, reportedly costing the billionaire ten big ones.
Lawyers representing Hothi, a vocal member of the TSLAQ short-seller community on Twitter, said in a statement that Musk asked to settle the nearly three-year-old case back in March. Hothi tweeted on Monday that he accepted the alleged offer, "for a modest $10k."
The Tesla skeptic added that he "look[s] forward to receiving a check from him in the mail."
Hothi rose to prominence as a skeptic of Tesla's gigafactory plans and "full self-driving" tech. In 2019, Tesla sought a permanent restraining order against Hothi, alleging he had "stalked, harassed, and endangered" employees while they were out driving in a Model 3.
Additionally, Tesla said Hothi had trespassed on, and installed cameras around, its Fremont, California, facility.
In response, a "defense fund" for Hothi on GoFundMe aimed to raise $100,000, and ultimately secured $229,592. Tesla soon dropped its case without publicly disclosing evidence to back up its claims.
Yet, the saga took another turn about 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 CEO's email, and Hothi later sued for defamation in the Alameda Superior Court of California.
Hothi's lawyers claimed that Musk's comment "prompted an onslaught of hateful Twitter response," saying the CEO's supporters accused "Hothi of being a liar, a murderer, a terrorist, and a deranged maniac," per an August 2020 complaint. Lawyers representing Musk petitioned the court to dismiss the case, but it ultimately moved forward to discovery.
About 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 docs show that Hothi's lawyers filed a request earlier today to dismiss the case.