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Tesla looks to eliminate bankruptcy as savior for past whistleblower

Credit: Tesla

Tesla is looking to eliminate the use of bankruptcy as a savior for an ex-employee who owes the company $425,000 in fines after a legal feud with the company’s CEO Elon Musk.

Martin Tripp, a past Tesla employee and whistleblower who anonymously told news outlets that the automaker was wasting raw materials at the Sparks, Nevada Gigafactory it operates, owes Tesla $425,000, a figure that was agreed upon to settle a lawsuit that accused him of stealing confidential data.

A new report from Bloomberg states that Tesla urged a judge on Tuesday to not allow Tripp to use bankruptcy to get out of paying the company the $425,000 fee.

$400,000 was used to settle the suit that accused him of stealing the data, and an additional $25,000 in sanctions was applied as he posted court documents online in violation of an order a judge gave him during the trial.

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Tripp had been making payments to Tesla to settle the debt, but in September, he filed for bankruptcy. Tesla does not feel he should be bailed out by using it to get out of paying the penalties that he agreed to in 2020 to settle the suit.

Tesla and Tripp have been in a very public legal dispute since 2018, when he came forward with claims that the automaker was not responsibly handling raw materials. He was fired for making the claims after Tesla found out he had come forward, and then legal matters followed as the company sued him for stealing confidential data.

Tesla has not taken legal matters lightly, and has beefed up its legal team over the past several years. Musk has said that the company would make a “hardcore” legal team a few years back, which has helped Tesla avoid bad publicity and handle lawsuits that were aimed at righting wrongs from ex-employees.

Filing for bankruptcy can alleviate someone from paying legal fees or debts. Tripp became free of paying Tesla after filing for bankruptcy in September, as an automatic stay becomes effective preventing a collection on a debt as soon as the claim was filed.

Some debts, such as child support, alimony, and unpaid taxes, cannot be discharge through bankruptcy. However, legal fees are a different story.

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Tesla looks to eliminate bankruptcy as savior for past whistleblower
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