After losing a fraud case, the automaker is now claiming defamation.
Tesla is no stranger to being in the headlines and is certainly no stranger to being in the courts. Whether the reasoning is down to an Autopilot failure or a customer who said something that the automaker didn't like, Tesla is always involved in some sort of legal battle. Recently, the EV giant was on the losing end of a lawsuit after a customer in China, Mr. Han Chao, was able to prove that the company acted in a fraudulent manner by selling a defective car that had apparently been in a crash of some sort. After losing an appeal, Tesla was ordered to pay around $235,000 in damages as a penalty for the fraudulent activity, but now it seems that the automaker is a bad loser, as the South China Morning Post reports that Tesla is suing Mr. Chao for defamation.
Mr. Chao has reportedly posted legal documents from Tesla informing him that the electric carmaker is suing him for the equivalent of over $650,000 for defamation and has demanded an apology. Pictures of the complaint show that the lawsuit is based on Chao's previous posts that described Tesla as a “rogue company”, calling it “rubbish Tesla” and “such a quack”. The statement continues by saying that “Han has been spreading his words through a series of online and offline actions … leading the public to have a negative impression of Tesla, causing damage to the company's reputation.” The South China Morning Post claims that it has made multiple attempts to get Tesla's comments on the matter, but all have been ignored to date.
Mr. Chao is understandably incredulous at the whole situation: “Do you mean to say, even though you need to pay me more than 1 million yuan in compensation, even though I am the victim, I cannot say a bad word about you and need to pay 5 million as a price?”
On the one hand, Tesla has a point in that it should not be ridiculed in such broad strokes when many other examples of its Model S – the car that Chao found issues with – are performing beautifully. However, the fact that Tesla refused to take responsibility for what it had done and challenged the court's ruling is pitiful. Now that the company is suing a man who proved its shortcomings, we can't help but wonder if Tesla is drawing more attention to its own failures and lack of willingness to take responsibility than would be the case if it had just paid up and moved on. Not cool, Tesla. Not cool at all.