Tesla attorneys wrote in their lawsuit that Tripp, a former technician at the company's Gigafactory battery plant in Nevada, wrote software to aid in an elaborate theft of confidential photos and video of Tesla's manufacturing systems.
"As a result of these and other issues, on or about May 17, 2018, Tripp was assigned to a new role".
A Tesla representative told Business Insider that the fire was in a structure that holds cardboard, wood, and paper products that are being recycled and that it was not near the open-air structure the company built to house a new assembly line for its Model 3 sedan.
Tesla is reportedly cutting 9% of jobs across the company, according to Bloomberg. "He is someone who stole Tesla data through highly pernicious means and transferred that data to unknown amounts of third parties, all while making easily disprovable claims about the company in order to try to harm it".
The name of the "friend" and whether the person actually knows Tripp could not be determined, however the Storey County Sheriff's Office said deputies determined there was "no credible threat" and that an investigation of the origin of the call was ongoing. "Tripp claimed that punctured battery cells had been used in some Model 3 customer vehicles even though the evidence clearly demonstrates that no punctured cells were ever used". At this time, there are no pending criminal charges against Tripp, but Tesla believes that the ex-employee may be a potential threat to safety.
But the emails show Musk duking it out with Tripp, calling him a "horrible human being" who should be "ashamed" of himself and face "legal penalties". Tesla has requested court-backed access to Tripp's computers, USB drives, cloud accounts and message histories to find "the extent to which Tesla trade secrets were wrongfully taken or sent to others". Tesla believes that this was also meant to implicate others as guilty parties, deferring blame on Tripp in case his actions were exposed.
Tripp denies accusations of sabotage and is claiming whistleblower status. Tripp said he responded that Musk deserved what was coming. "I'm a scapegoat because I provided information that is absolutely true", he said.