NEW YORK — Walmart sued Tesla for “gross negligence” on Tuesday after its solar panels went up in flames on seven store rooftops, including its store in Beavercreek.
Walmart said fires broke out at seven store rooftops between 2012 and 2018, causing millions of dollars in damage, according to the complaint.
The fire in Beavercreek broke out on March 7, 2018, and caused the store at 3360 Pentagon Blvd. to be closed for eight days.
Inspections found that several of Tesla Energy’s solar panels were broken and that wires were hanging out, causing a fire hazard. In its lawsuit, Walmart said Tesla engaged in “widespread, systemic negligence” and “failed to abide by prudent industry practices in installing, operating and maintaining its solar systems.”
Tesla Inc., based in Palo Alto, California, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Walmart said it had deals with Tesla Energy to install and maintain solar panels on 244 stores.
Last May, Walmart said it demanded that Tesla disconnect all the solar panel systems it had installed. However, another fire happened at a California store after the panels had been disconnected for several months. Walmart said it later found out that Tesla ignored an alert from that store’s solar panels, which Walmart said was the likely cause of the fire. In court documents, Walmart said ignoring the alert reveals “Tesla’s utter incompetence or callousness, or both.”
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart Inc. did not specify how much money it is seeking from Tesla in the lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court, saying that the amount would be determined at trial.