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Profit before safety? Walmart sues Tesla, claims solar panels caused fires at several stores

Profit before safety? Walmart sues Tesla, claims solar panels caused fires at several stores
Retail giant Walmart is suing Elon Musk’s electric car maker and energy company Tesla, accusing it of “gross negligence” and blaming Tesla’s rooftop solar panels for fires at seven of its stores.

In a lawsuit filed in the New York State Supreme Court, Walmart said that it faced massive losses after the solar panels supplied by Tesla allegedly caught fire at the stores last year. Much of the merchandise was burnt or damaged, the facilities required substantial repairs, and damages totalled millions of dollars, according to Reuters citing the court papers.

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The suit claims that Tesla failed to hire qualified workers to install the equipment, and its own inadequate inspections could have threatened the safety of Walmart customers and employees.

“This is a breach of contract action arising from years of gross negligence and a failure to live up to industry standards by Tesla,” Walmart said in court filings. It seeks not only compensation for the damages, but also asks the court to force Tesla to remove solar panels from more than 240 of its stores across the US.

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Walmart uses solar panels made by SolarCity, which was purchased by Tesla in 2016 for $2.6 billion and has been offering energy services through the parent company since then. The energy company, and now Tesla, was required to install, safely maintain and operate the panel systems.

In the lawsuit the retailer, which is one of the major clients of SolarCity, accused the company of “an ill-considered business model” as it “haphazardly” installed the panels as quickly as possible for making profit.

Tesla’s stock dropped around 1.6 percent in after-hours trading as news of the lawsuit emerged.

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