A securities fraud lawsuit filed by shareholders against Tesla in 2017 claiming misleading comments previously made about Model 3 production readiness has been dismissed by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of the Northern District of California. This is the second time the shareholders’ lawsuit was dismissed, the first being last August in favor of an amended filing.
Judge Breyer’s decision cited that Tesla’s “repeated warnings about Model 3 production risks” including CEO Elon Musk’s references to “production hell” amounted to an ignorance of the facts by the plaintiffs claiming fraud.
The class-action lawsuit was filed by two investors, Kurt Friedman and Uppili Srinivasan, and alleged that the company, Musk, and two of its Chief Financial Officers intentionally misled shareholders about the progress of Model 3 production in 2017 when the all-electric car maker was “woefully unprepared” for the manufacturing demands. At that time, Tesla had a large backlog of orders and only delivered the first Model 3 cars in July 2017 while aiming for a 5,000 per week production rate by the end of the year.
Friedman and Srinivasan claimed Tesla made “false and misleading statements” about being able to produce 5,000 Model 3 vehicles weekly by the end of 2017, and that investors were negatively impacted by the market response to the missed goal. Class-action status was sought for shareholders who had purchased Tesla stock between May 3, 2016 and November 1, 2017.
Tesla, however, had already admitted to shareholders in October 2017 that the Model 3’s production ramp was behind schedule, causing $TSLA stock to plunge from $350 to about $300. The weekly goal of 5,000 Model 3’s produced was not actually met until June 2018, but Tesla was transparent about the process challenges in meeting that number, as decided by Judge Breyer in his dismissal.