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Walmart drops lawsuit against Tesla over solar panel fires

Walmart drops lawsuit against Tesla over solar panel fires


Walmart had said the fires were the result of ‘years of gross negligence’

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Walmart has agreed to drop a lawsuit against Tesla over a rash of solar panel fires filed in August, according to a new filing with the New York State Supreme Court. The retail giant had claimed that “years of gross negligence” by Tesla — and its solar panel subsidiary, SolarCity — led to fires on the roofs of at least seven of its stores, causing millions of dollars in damage, and resulting in Walmart having the solar panels deactivated.

“Walmart and Tesla are pleased to have resolved the issues raised by Walmart concerning the Tesla solar installations at Walmart stores,” the companies said in a joint statement, without elaborating on the specifics of the agreement. “Safety is a top priority for each company and with the concerns being addressed, we both look forward to a safe re-energization of our sustainable energy systems.”

Walmart’s original complaint was explosive

Walmart’s lawyers had accused SolarCity of adopting “an ill-considered business model that required it to install solar panel systems haphazardly and as quickly as possible in order to turn a profit” in the explosive complaint. They argued SolarCity relied on contractors and subcontractors who were “not been properly hired, trained, and supervised.”

The lawyers also alleged in the lawsuit that Tesla did not properly handle Walmart’s complaints about the fires. Just days after the lawsuit was filed, Business Insider uncovered a secret program at Tesla dubbed “Project Titan” that was spun up to quietly fix the defects that led to solar panel fires.

However, a settlement appears to have been in the works for a while. In August, Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove told The Verge that the companies were “working towards a resolution,” before adding that “if you were to characterize that as a settlement, we wouldn’t dispute it.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk also said in a recent court deposition that he spoke to Walmart’s CEO shortly after the lawsuit was filed, and the two “figured out a resolution.”

“This lawsuit is going to be withdrawn,” Musk said.

Update November 5th, 11:57AM ET: Added joint statement from Walmart and Tesla.