Tesla faces big penalty in JPMorgan lawsuit

Tesla is staring down a hefty bill from JPMorgan Chase — nearly $300 million, according to a court filing.

JPMorgan claimed Tesla owed it $162 million last month after CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company was shopping its electric vehicles and solar roofs. Shares plummeted, and Tesla said it was reviewing the matter.

But on Thursday, the bank took JPMorgan and other banks to court, asking a judge to rule that Tesla’s tweets violated a confidentiality agreement and interfered with those parties’ business relations with Tesla.

Musk’s multiple Twitter postings “permanently damaged JPM because they disclosed that Tesla was considering the sale of its solar roof business,” JPMorgan’s lawyers wrote in the filing.

JPMorgan is not suing for any damages. Instead, it is asking a judge to toss out the confidentiality clause from the Tesla loan agreement and send the case to arbitration, which would essentially allow JPMorgan to try to recoup some of its losses, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit.

“We think it is important to note that the claim to recover damages is being asserted only against Tesla, not against the other lenders and the negotiation of a possible settlement,” Tesla said in a statement.

“The securitization transaction contained a clause that Tesla was required to comply with certain confidentiality requirements during the loan term, and that the covenants would be waived if the obligations under the covenants were not complied with,” the statement said. “As such, we will vigorously defend this action.”

Tesla recently announced that it has an “agreement in principle” to sell its solar roof products to five large Fortune 500 companies, although it has declined to name them.

Musk has burned through a lot of cash this year. Tesla expects to end 2018 with about $2.5 billion in cash, which would be down from the roughly $3 billion it had before Musk ramped up production of the Model 3 sedan.

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