A Model S owner from China says Tesla is suing him for defamation after the EV maker paid him more than $155,000 in a separate sales fraud lawsuit.
Han Chao posted legal documents on social media in which Tesla says it is suing him for 5.05 million yuan ($781,700) for defamation. The company also demands an apology and the removal of Han's posts about the sales fraud suit from the Weibo platform.
According to pictures of the complaint posted by Han, Tesla filed the lawsuit after several recent social media posts in which he described Tesla as a “rogue company,” “rubbish Tesla” and “such a quack.” The South China Morning Post published Tesla’s statement from the lawsuit filing.
“Han has been spreading his words through a series of online and offline actions… leading the public to have a negative impression of Tesla, causing damage to the company’s reputation.”
The newspaper tried to contact Tesla China requesting comment but the automaker did not respond to “multiple emails, messages and phone calls.” Upon receiving the complaint, Han Chao publicly ridiculed it on his Weibo profile.
“Do you mean to say, even though you need to pay me more than 1 million yuan in compensation, even though I am the victim, I cannot say a bad word about you and need to pay 5 million as a price?”
It all started in June 2019, when Han bought a used Tesla Model S from the automaker’s official sales website. Despite being reassured that the vehicle had “no major accidents, no structural damage and had never been in a fire or flood,” Han claims that the car shut down three months later while he was driving.
Han says he asked Tesla to replace the vehicle at the time, but the company only agreed to change the defective parts. After repeated attempts to settle the issue amicably, he took the car to a third-party workshop, and the evaluation revealed traces of cutting and welding in the car’s rear-side panels. That was a clear indication that the car had been in an accident before being sold to Han.
He therefore sued Tesla for sales fraud, and the Beijing Daxing District People’s Court found the EV maker guilty in the first instance of hiding the car’s previous damage when selling it to Han. The court ruled that Tesla should pay Han 1 million yuan ($155,000) in the final instance on September 17, 2021, only ten days before the automaker sued him back for defamation.