Retail giant Walmart is suing Tesla over a number of roof fires at multiple Walmart stores which the company claims were caused by Tesla solar panels.
MarketWatch reports that retail giant Walmart Inc. is suing Elon Musk’s company over a number of roof fires at multiple Walmart stores which the firm alleges were caused by Elon Musk’s solar panels. Walmart is suing for breach of contract and is alleging “gross negligence” on Tesla’s part. Walmart is alleging that fires on the rooftops of stores in California, Maryland, and Ohio were the result of Tesla solar panels.
The complaint filed on Tuesday states: “To state the obvious, properly designed, installed, inspected, and maintained solar systems do not spontaneously combust, and the occurrence of multiple fires involving Tesla’s solar systems is but one unmistakable sign of negligence by Tesla.”
Tesla purchased SolarCity in 2016 for $2.6 billion. At the time of the acquisition, SolarCity was the largest installer of home-solar-panels in the United States. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was the chairman and largest shareholder of both companies at the time of purchase. SolarCity was founded by two of Musk’s cousins who have since left the firm. Tesla shareholders sued over the acquisition of SolarCity and that case is due to go to trial in March 2020.
In the complaint, Walmart’s lawyers criticized the acquisition stating: “On information and belief, when Tesla purchased SolarCity to bail out the flailing company (whose executives included two of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s first cousins), Tesla failed to correct SolarCity’s chaotic installation practices or to adopt adequate maintenance protocols, which would have been particularly important in light of the improper installation practices.”
The complaint states that the affected Walmart stores were among more than 240 Walmart businesses which had leased or licensed roof space to Tesla to install the solar panels. The complaint states that Tesla presented the panels a “safe, reliable” and an environmentally conscious way for Walmart to reduce energy costs. However, it was “clear that Tesla had breached its contractual obligations,” and the firm was asked to disconnect the systems which Tesla did. However, another fire still took place at a Walmart store in Yuba City, California.
A total of seven Walmart stores have experienced fires due to faulty solar panels according to the complaint. Tesla shares dropped by 1.1 percent following the news, with the stock dropping by a total of 32 percent this year alone.