skabooshka defense fund

$118,189 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 564 people in 2 months
Created April 20, 2019
I am Lawrence J. Fossi, and wrote at Seeking Alpha under the pseudonym of Montana Skeptic.

I learned today that Tesla Inc. has obtained an ex parte (only one side represented) temporary restraining order against $TSLAQ member @skabooshka.

What will follow over the next two weeks or so is "discovery" (depositions, written questions) and an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Tesla can obtain a temporary injunction. Tesla alleges @skabooshka is a dangerous person. I believe he is a seeker of truth who has done valuable work and deserves a vigorous and capable defense.

Tesla's TRO application was triggered by @skabooshka's effort to determine the true nature of the forthcoming "Investor Autonomy Event". I believe important First Amendment rights are at issue, and urge you to support his effort.

Funds will be used to pay @skabooshka's legal expenses in defending against the Tesla legal action, and in bringing any appropriate counterclaims. Any and all excess funds will be donated to a good related cause, with full disclosure about the recipient or recipients, and proof of donation sent to all donors.

Many thanks.

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July 12, 2019

Tesla has evidently dismissed its original lawyers in this case and hired new legal counsel, the Oakland, CA firm of Boersch & Illovsky LLP.

The new lawyers filed papers in the case on Wednesday, July 10, and immediately filed a motion asking the Court (1) to amend its July 1 discovery order to excuse Tesla from producing the audio recording of the Model 3 occupants and (2) to enter a protective order that would bar public and press access to any of the audio or video recordings.

Yesterday, July 11, we filed an opposition to the motion.

First, we point out Tesla acknowledges it had two cameras mounted atop the Model 3 and one inside the car, and proposes to produce the video from those cameras. However, Tesla evidently wants to pretend there is no video from the eight cameras integrated into the Model 3, and that none of the Model 3's occupants made recordings on their cell phones. Per the Court's July 1 order, we expect Tesla to produce ALL the recordings, not just those it finds convenient to produce.

Second, noting that Tesla has accused Mr. Hothi of making a "credible threat of violence," we argue that the audio recording of the car's occupants is crucial to determining whether any of them actually felt "fear for his or her safety" (under the applicable statute, Tesla must show that Mr. Hothi's driving was "a knowing and willful... course of conduct that would place a reasonable person in fear for his or safety... and that serves no legitimate purpose").

Third, while we agree to use the Tesla recordings only for purposes of the temporary injunction hearing, we emphatically reject Tesla's attempt (once again) to bar public and press access to the recordings.

Tesla's motion will likely create additional delay in Mr. Hothi receiving the recordings Tesla has been ordered to produce. However, we hope for a Court ruling several days in advance of the July 26 temporary injunction hearing.

Once again, I wish to convey the continuing gratitude of Mr. Hothi to all who have supported him in this trying time.

It is daunting to be up against a vindictive company with unlimited resources, led by a CEO who has evinced a clear and lengthy pattern of punishing critics and telling lies, and who will not hesitate to use litigation to harass, delay, and conceal. (The examples of Martin Tripp and Vernon Unsworth spring immediately to mind, and there are several others.) With such forces arrayed against us, your support and encouragement has been invaluable.
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July 5, 2019

We have received a helpful ruling from the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda, that will require Tesla to produce important evidence to Skabooshka in advance of the July 26 temporary injunction hearing.

By way of background, on May 2, several days after Tesla filed its lawsuit and (without notice or a hearing) obtained its TRO, Skabooshka asked Tesla to agree to limited discovery that would include photographs, audio, and video of the two incidents at issue (the February 21 incident in the Fremont factory parking lot, in which Tesla alleges Skabooshka's car struck one of its employees, and the April 6 incident in which Skabooshka photographed a Tesla Model 3 engaged in autonomous driving testing and, according to Tesla, "stalked, harassed, and endangered" the Tesla employees in the car, "swerving dangerously close" to the Model 3").

There is no right to discovery at the temporary injunction hearing phase of California actions alleging (as Tesla has) "workplace violence." However, a court has discretion to allow such discovery, and here the Court acknowledged that the evidence Skabooshka seeks would be "directly relevant," and ordered production of "any photographic, audio, or video recordings of the alleged incidents on February 21 or April 6, 2019."

Skabooshka had sought other evidence such as police reports and some employee records. The Court, while acknowledging such evidence would likely be relevant, declined to require production of those materials at this preliminary stage.

Tesla must produce all its photographic, audio, and video evidence to Skabooshka by July 16; Skabooshka (who lodged no objections to doing so) must produce all such evidence he has to Tesla by the same date.

Tesla had asked the Court to exclude the press from the July 26 temporary injunction hearing. (At the earlier hearing, where the congested court calendar meant there was not time to hear this matter, reporters from Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times had shown up.) The Court made no mention of Tesla's request. Presumably, the July 26 hearing will remain open to the public & press.

Skaboosha asks me to communicate again his profound gratitude for the hundreds of people who have donated to the cause, in amounts large and small. Every one of those donations, and the kind thoughts that accompanied them, is appreciated.
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Update 9, May 21, 2019, 9:30 pm

An interesting day at the court house, but in the end a bit frustrating.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Brand had a congested docket of cases to hear. For Judge Brand, I am pretty confident, that is business as usual. By the time Tesla, Inc. v. Randeep Hothi finally was called, there was not enough time to hear testimony.

Judge Brand called the lawyers to the bench, apologized that he would unable to hear the matter today, and worked on a new schedule. Between the Judge's constraints and those of the lawyers, the earliest hearing date that could be agreed upon was July 26. So, back we go on July 26.

It was not all for naught. Mr. Hothi's counsel, Gill Sperlein, told Judge Brand that with the extra time we have, we would like to conduct some limited discovery. Tesla's counsel, Zachary J. Alinder, objected, saying that discovery is not typically allowed for temporary injunction hearings.

Mr. Sperlein told the Court, in essence, Look, Judge, you told us when you granted the continuance that we could either agree to discovery or we could take the matter up with you at this hearing. We sent some very narrow discovery requests to Tesla. Tesla has video footage of the February incident in the parking lot. The police have it. But we don't have it.

As for the May incident, Tesla's Model 3 had eight integrated cameras, and two more mounted on the roof, and several people in the car with cell phones. Surely, all that video will reveal whether, in fact, Mr. Hothi was, as Tesla claims, endangering the Model 3's occupants. Yet Tesla declined to produce any of that video.

The Court instructed Mr. Sperlein to submit a letter brief detailing the discovery he wanted and why he needed it. I have no doubt Mr. Sperlein will do so in a matter of days.

Let me close with two more points. First, in Mr. Alinder, Tesla has found the ideal legal counsel. The Reply Brief Mr. Alinder filed today was misleading in recounting the facts and made spurious legal arguments. Elon was no doubt proud.

Second, despite the delay, Randeep Hothi remains buoyed, optimistic, and determined. And, most of all, appreciative to everyone who has so kindly and thoughtfully and generously supported him.

I offer my sincere thanks as well, and the thanks of Gill Sperlein.
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Update 8, May 20, 5:00 p.m.

The hearing on Tesla's request for a temporary injunction against Skabooshka is scheduled for tomorrow at 1:30 pm California time in the Alameda County courthouse in Oakland. This will be Ska's first opportunity to be appear before the Court.

(Tesla obtained its TRO without notifying Ska, so Ska had no opportunity to present his side of the story. It's always much easier to succeed in litigation when you make sure your opponent can't show up.)

Over at Twitter, @PlainSite has posted the docket in Tesla, Inc. v. Hothi, at which you can find the Response filed on Friday by Ska's attorney. Click on Document 11 ("Response to Petition for Workplace Violence Restraining Orders filed for Randeep Hothi"):


Once I know the outcome of tomorrow's hearing, I will post another update. In the meantime, the extraordinary outpouring of support here has been a tremendous testament to the character and generosity of the TSLAQ community, and is deeply appreciated by me, Ska, and Ska's trial counsel, Gill Sperlein. All three of us thank you.
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$118,189 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 564 people in 2 months
Created April 20, 2019
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