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Tesla whistleblower tells SEC of alleged wrongdoing at Gigafactory

Enlarge / Tesla’s new Model 3 car on display is seen on Friday, January 26, 2018, at the Tesla store in Washington, DC.Getty Images

Martin Tripp, the ex-Tesla technician who has been sued by his former employer, has now filed a formal whistleblower tip to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tripp’s lawyer, Stuart Meissner, told Ars that his client is reiterating claims that the company has been allegedly dishonest with the public and with investors in statements regarding Model 3 production. Previously, Tripp told Ars that he wanted to reveal internal waste and safety flaws in Tesla batteries that he claimed he observed while working at the company’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada.

The tip, known as a “TCR,” was filed late last Friday. Meissner, who is not licensed to practice law in Nevada, is only representing Tripp as part of his whistleblowing complaint. Meissner said he would not be “releasing the actual information” contained in the TCR for now.

“It’s up to the SEC how they pursue it,” he said. Meissner is an established whistleblower attorney–he previously represented a former employee at Monsanto who exposed accounting violations. That whistleblower was ultimately awarded £22 million.

The New York-based lawyer told Ars that what is unusual about Tripp’s case is that Tripp is going public with his actual name, while many whistleblowers stay anonymous as a way to avoid the spotlight and retribution. “This is the first time in my memory that it’s the opposite,” Meissner said, noting that his client had been “outed, tarred, and feathered by Tesla already.” Tripp still does not have a lawyer in the lawsuit Tesla filed against him in federal court in Nevada, but Meissner said that is likely to change.

“I expect soon he will retain one and will file a counterclaim against Tesla, likely for defamation,” Meissner said. “I believe his story, and I believe he has been maligned.” CEO Elon Musk has suggested that there could be up to 40 “bad apples” who have committed “sabotage” against the company in an apparent effort to thwart Tesla’s ambitious promised ramp-up to producing 5,000 Model 3s per week. Recently (and highly unusually), the company mounted a tent-like apparatus known as a Sprung structure that would house a new assembly line as part of its Fremont, California, factory.

As of Wednesday, Tesla had not filed any new similar lawsuits against anyone else besides Tripp.

Tesla did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.

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