Tesla shares slide on news of Walmart suing over solar-panel fires

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Shares of Tesla fell 2.2% to $220.83 on Wednesday after Walmart sued the electric car company’s energy division for fires allegedly stemming from solar panels.

Tesla’s stock went down as the broader market moved higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up more than 300 points, or more than 1%, at one point.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in New York state court, Walmart alleged that Tesla solar panels installed atop seven of its stores had caught fire. Walmart is claiming breach of contract, gross negligence and failure to live up to industry standards.

“As of November 2018, no fewer than seven Walmart stores had experienced fires due to Tesla’s solar systems — including the four fires described above and three others that had occurred earlier,” the lawsuit says.

The retailer is asking the court to force Tesla to remove solar panels from more than 240 Walmart stores where they were installed, as well as pay damages related to all the fires. It didn’t specify a monetary amount.

Walmart alleged that Tesla “routinely deployed individuals to inspect the solar systems who lacked basic solar training and knowledge.”

The lawsuit has revived concerns about Tesla’s $2.6 billion acquisition of SolarCity in 2016. Walmart alleged in its claim that Tesla bought SolarCity to “bail out the flailing company” and mentions SolarCity 46 times throughout the lawsuit.

Tesla’s stock price has suffered, with shares down roughly 31% this year. CEO Elon Musk’s now-infamous tweet last August about taking the company private kickstarted a rough year for the company, followed by litigation, government inquiries, layoffs and operational challenges.

Tesla did not return a request for comment on the suit.

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