In a case that will go down in history as a first, an Indian-American student Randeep Hothi managed to win round one of his legal battles with millionaire Elon Musk. 

The Tesla CEO was recently unable to stay a defamation lawsuit filed by Hothi, an ardent critic of Tesla, against Musk after a California judge dismissed his pleas that the case was baseless and an attempt to silence the millionaire’s free speech. 

Hothi is a 2009 graduate of t University of California, Berkeley, and his parents live in Fremont, where Tesla also has its auto plant. Hothi is part of a global group that has vehemently criticised Elon Musk and Tesla, this often leads to Twitter wars and online trolling. This group made up of ex-Tesla employees, students like Hothi, and other professionals tag themselves with the hashtag $TSLAQ.

Randeep Hothi is a doctoral candidate in Asian languages and cultures at the University of Michigan and a frequent critic of Tesla. Hothi is interested in Sikh Studies, specifically on how the Sikh diaspora interacts with the world around them. He describes himself as “Investigating/Reporting on corporate fraud. Currently focusing on Tesla. DMs open for fellow travelers, reporters, whistleblowers, etc” on his Twitter profile.

What is Rothi’s defamation case against Musk’

As per reports, Randeep Hothi is a University of Michigan graduate student who drew Elon Musk’s wrath at least two years ago following two separate incidents including Hothi’s harmless claims. 

Firstly, in February 2019, Hothi was confronted by a security guard when he went to do research reportedly at Tesla sales centre in Fremont, California. Secondly, in April 2019, Hothi said he was driving when he had spotted a Tesla test car, took photos of it and posted online. 

In the wake of the incidents, Musk had complained about Hothi in an email to an online tech editor describing Hothi as a ‘liar’ and accused him of ‘almost killing Tesla employees’ while driving away from the sales centre.

However, Hothi claimed that Musk had unleashed an online hate campaign against him and filed the lawsuit in August in Alameda county superior court. But, Tesla CEO asked the judge to strike the lawsuit on the grounds that his remarks were a matter of public interest. However, Tesla CEO has now lost.

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