Elon Musk sued by Tesla Twitter critic for defamation

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk in April.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk is accused in a lawsuit of defaming a longtime critic of the company and triggering an online hate campaign against him.

Randeep Hothi, a University of Michigan graduate student known as @skabooshka on Twitter, says after Musk accused him of “almost” killing Tesla employees, he was hit with “an onslaught of hateful Twitter responses, accusing Hothi of being a liar, a murderer, a terrorist, and a deranged maniac.”

Musk’s accusations — made in an email to a website editor, who posted it on Twitter — arose from two incidents, both of which Hothi says were harmless.


In the first, in February 2019, Hothi’s was confronted by a security guard when he showed up — to do research, he says — at the Tesla sales center in Fremont, Calif.

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.

Tesla sought a restraining order in which it claimed that Hothi had hit the security guard with his car and dangerously swerved toward the test car. Hothi denied the accusations, and Tesla dropped the suit after a judge ordered it to turn over video of the disputed incidents.

Hothi has been a thorn in Musk’s side, accusing him of being unable to live up to his promises for delivery of new Tesla cars and technologies.

Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The case is Hothi vs. Musk, Alameda County Superior Court.