Elon Musk is famous for promising to send space tourists to the moon and providing big-bucks Americans with expensive Tesla electric cars.
But now he’s coming down to earth in a whistle blower lawsuit filed over an executive’s firing from Musk’s SpaceX.
Lawyers for a man who says he was fired by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. after blowing the whistle on managers say the testimony of company CEO Elon Musk should be excluded because he did not agree to sit first for a deposition.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Fahey previously denied a motion by plaintiff Jason Blasdell’s attorneys to force Musk’s deposition, but did order the CEO to answer written questions. He is scheduled to rule on the current motion on April 3.
Blasdell’s lawyers say in their court papers that Musk has “unique knowledge of facts directly probative to Blasdell’s whistleblowing” and that it would be unfair to allow him to take the stand during the trial because they were denied the chance to prepare for his testimony via a deposition.
The plaintiff’s lawyers also want Fahey to fine SpaceX’s attorneys $6,875 for their alleged “abuse of the discovery process.”
Blasdell worked at the rocket and spacecraft manufacturer’s Hawthorne headquarters as an avionics test technician from 2010 until his 2014 firing, according to his lawsuit filed last April 1.
Blasdell received consistently positive reviews from management for his work, his lawsuit states. However, he began seeing safety issues related to the testing procedures of rocket parts, leading him to question the quality of the testing and the risks it posed for not just the rockets potentially exploding, but for the potential loss of human life as well, according to his attorneys’ court papers.
Blasdell complained to SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, Musk and to the company’s human resources department that there were potentially dangerous deviations from protocol that his managers were pressuring test technicians to make, his lawyers state in their court papers.
Shotwell told Blasdell during an October 2013 meeting that she would investigate his concerns and hire an outside consultant to investigate, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys’ court papers.
Blasdell followed up in early 2014 when he inquired of Shotwell by email whether the consultant had been hired, his attorneys’ court papers state.
“Ms. Shotwell never responded to plaintiff’s inquiry, but instead wrote a separate email to plaintiff criticizing the manner in which plaintiff communicated with management,” according to Blasdell’s attorneys’ court papers.
Blasdell was fired in April 2014 for being “disruptive,” according to the papers.
In their court papers, SpaceX attorneys called Blasdell’s lawsuit “baseless.”
—City News Service
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