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"Run Away!": Tesla Drops Restraining Order Against Short-Seller After Court Asks For Actual Evidence

Back in April, we reported on the story of Tesla being granted a temporary restraining order against one of its critics, Randeep Hothi, who posted on Twitter under the name @skabooshska. Since then, Hothi's legal defense GoFundMe has raised more than $118,000, allowing him to retain capable counsel, which has paid off for him. 

Yesterday, it was reported that Tesla dropped its pursuit of a restraining order against Hothi after the court asked the company to provide audio and video recordings related to the two "incidents" the company cited as reason for the TRO to begin with. 

In other words: the court asked for evidence of Tesla's allegations against Hothi, and Tesla instead decided to just drop the issue. 

Why might that be?

In a court filing from April, Tesla alleged that Hothi "had a history of trespassing at its facilities, taking photos and video to post to his Twitter account, before he recently started menacing its employees."

The order claims that in February, Hothi struck a security guard with his vehicle when he was approached in Tesla's Fremont parking lot. The incident was so devastating that it caused a "minor knee injury", according to Tesla. The company also says it contacted Fremont police, but that officers were unable to deliver a no-trespassing order to Hothi (we wonder why). Hothi lives about 3 miles from Tesla's Fremont factory.

Updates on the restraining order hearing had been coming in routinely from fellow Tesla short seller Lawrence Fossi (Montana Skeptic) in blog postings and podcasts. Montana Skeptic was, himself, also once targeted by Elon Musk and his merry band of brothers for daring to publicly criticize Tesla. 

A lengthy update from Fossi on Saturday says:

The lawsuit of Tesla v. Hothi, which began with a series of Tesla lies, has ended with a series of Tesla lies, told by Tesla's latest legal counsel in dismissing the lawsuit late yesterday to avoid complying with a Court order that Tesla turn over the audio, video, and photographic recordings that supposedly show the dangerous conduct of Mr. Hothi.


So, here is how it all went down:

  • Smear Mr. Hothi with reckless and false allegations in TRO application of which Hothi receives no notice and no chance to offer his side of the story.

  • Stir up the loyal, cultish Tesla fans to attack him as dangerous, criminal, and worse.

  • Attempt to destroy his academic ambitions and employment prospects.

  • Then, refuse to produce the evidence, and instead lie to the Court and to the public about what happened.

  • This is what Tesla under Elon Musk has become. This is Musk's stamp on the Tesla corporate culture. This is who they are.

Attorney Sperlein has sent Tesla's counsel a letter warning that Hothi may well pursue a malicious prosecution claim or similar claim, and that Tesla should take care that none of the evidence is tampered with or destroyed.

This thread, in its entirety, also gives a wonderful recap of the events of the TRO as they took place from the start. 

In addition, it looks as though Mr. Hothi is now going to be filing an action of his own against the company. 

36/ Oh, wait! This just in! A letter: pic.twitter.com/4PtmTmpnvw

— Polixenes (@Polixenes13) July 20, 2019

Fin Twit had a field day with the news, calling out the company for a hearing that many believed they were certain to lose, had the "evidence" been made public.

Unsurprisingly, $TSLA drops the lawsuit against @skabooshka because all of the company's claims were lies.

What else is new this Friday? $TSLAQ

— Tomi (@tomi) July 20, 2019

Why withdraw if video footage bears out your version of events?? I trust this whole exercise wasn’t an attempt to intimidate a critic https://t.co/O914wA0aW0

— Charley Grant (@CGrantWSJ) July 20, 2019

In addition to calling him a terrorist, Tesla fans reported Skabooshka to immigration and wrote to his university department trying to get him kicked out... and encouraged others to do the same. Tesla didn't have to present a single fact to make this happen. Shameful. pic.twitter.com/PXkSSyiEz6

— E.W. Niedermeyer (@Tweetermeyer) July 20, 2019

Critical thinking 101: Welcome, class!

Tesla claims that they dropped the suit to keep their employee's conversations/biz private (and the same was mindlessly parroted by the PR lackey @etherington in the Tech Crunch PR stunt).

But there's two glaring issues with this:

1/ pic.twitter.com/xtNGMXqlkT

— ben k (@Benshooter) July 20, 2019

Surprise, surprise. Having hidden behind the "judicial privilege" that protects pleadings from defamation lawsuits, $TSLA and its lying, craven, cowardly, sociopath CEO feed a favored propaganda outlet with a final smear of @skabooshka before crawling away from their lawsuit. https://t.co/XkuVzOFaB7

— Polixenes (@Polixenes13) July 20, 2019