Wal­mart sues Tesla for so­lar pan­els that went up in flames

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - As­so­ci­ated Press

NEW YORK — Wal­mart sued Tesla for “gross neg­li­gence” on Tues­day, say­ing that the elec­tric car com­pany’s en­ergy di­vi­sion in­stalled so­lar pan­els that went up in flames on its store rooftops.

The re­tailer said fires broke out at seven store rooftops be­tween 2012 and 2018, caus­ing mil­lions of dol­lars in dam­age. One lo­ca­tion in Ohio had to be closed for eight days, Wal­mart said in the com­plaint.

In­spec­tions found that sev­eral of Tesla’s so­lar pan­els were bro­ken and that wires were hang­ing out, caus­ing a fire hazard. In its law­suit, Wal­mart said Tesla en­gaged in “wide­spread, sys­temic neg­li­gence” and “failed to abide by pru­dent in­dus­try prac­tices in in­stalling, op­er­at­ing, and main­tain­ing its so­lar sys­tems.”

Tesla Inc., which is based in Palo Alto, Cal­i­for­nia, did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for comment on Tues­day.

Wal­mart said it had deals with Tesla En­ergy, formerly known as So­larcity, to in­stall and main­tain so­lar pan­els on 244 Wal­mart stores.

In May of last year, Wal­mart said it de­manded that Tesla dis­con­nect all the so­lar panel sys­tems it had in­stalled. But Wal­mart said an­other fire still oc­curred at a Cal­i­for­nia store, even though the pan­els had been dis­con­nected for sev­eral months. The com­pany said that the wires on the store’s rooftop were still spark­ing when it dis­cov­ered the fire.

Wal­mart said it later found out that Tesla ig­nored an alert from that store’s so­lar pan­els, which Wal­mart said was the likely cause of the fire. In the court doc­u­ments, Wal­mart said ig­nor­ing the alert re­veals “Tesla’s ut­ter in­com­pe­tence or cal­lous­ness, or both.”

Ben­tonville, Arkansas­based Wal­mart Inc. did not spec­ify how much money it is seek­ing from Tesla in the law­suit filed in New York State Supreme Court, say­ing that the amount would be de­ter­mined at trial.

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