Walmart ends legal feud with Tesla after accusing the company’s solar panels of causing fires at 7 stores

Solar panels on the roof of a Sam’s Club in Glendora, California. David McNew/Getty Images
  • Walmart has dropped its lawsuit against Tesla, which accused the company’s solar panels of causing fires at seven stores.
  • Tesla engaged in “widespread negligence” as it installed more than 200 systems at Walmart stores nationwide, the original complaint said.
  • A Walmart representative said the two companies had reached a settlement outside of the court to drop the suit and reenergize the systems.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Walmart has dropped its lawsuit that claimed Tesla solar panels caught fire on the roof of seven stores throughout the United States.

According to a court filing from Monday, Walmart’s complaint was “voluntarily discontinued without prejudice” to Tesla.

A Walmart spokesperson said that the two companies had reached a settlement outside of the court, but provided no details on that agreement. A final court approval of the settlement and case dismissal is expected soon.

The company plans to reenergize its 240 solar systems as part of the agreement, the representative said.

“Walmart and Tesla are pleased to have resolved the issues raised by Walmart concerning the Tesla solar installations at Walmart stores,” the companies said in a joint statement. “Safety is a top priority for each company and with the concerns being addressed, we both look forward to a safe re-energization of our sustainable energy systems.”

Shares of Tesla spiked about 1.5% when the filing was made public Tuesday morning. The company did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

In August, when the retail giant’s lawsuit was originally filed, it said the fires were a result of Tesla’s “widespread negligence” as it installed systems on more than 200 stores, all of which had been switched off after the fires.

“Tesla has also demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to remediate the dangerous conditions documented in its inspection reports,” the complaint said.

In the wake of the lawsuit, Amazon said that Tesla panels had also caught fire on the roof of one of its fulfillment centres in Redlands, California, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. A spokesperson said at the time that Amazon had no further plans for more Tesla solar projects beyond its existing 11.

In the summer of 2018, Tesla quietly launched “Project Titan” to replace defective solar-panel parts. Specifically, Tesla was replacing connectors and optimizers, parts that are meant to regulate the amount of energy flowing to a solar panel. Too much energy can cause a fire.

In response to the program being reported publicly, Tesla said that less than 1% of sites with the connectors had “exhibited any abnormal behaviour.”

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