In August 2020, Chen Jun (pseudonym), the owner of Tesla out of control in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, caused external attention because he drove a model 3 high-speed into the interceptor of the parking lot and collided with multiple vehicles. Two years later, on May 9, 2022, Chen Jun became the focus of public opinion again because of a letter of apology. While losing the lawsuit to Tesla, he may also face the prosecution of three Tesla owners.
Source: Sina Weibo (@ ID Han Chao)
Chen Jun issued a public apology letter through his personal microblog account (@ mobile user 3042983165) because he lost the final judgment in the reputation dispute with Tesla (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. In the letter of apology, Chen Jun admitted that after the accident, although he knew that he stepped on the accelerator as the brake, he was unwilling to fabricate "Tesla automatic acceleration brake failure" and other contents on multiple media. The letter of apology also mentioned the three owners who are defending Tesla's rights - Mr. Feng, the Shanghai owner who provides a legal platform, Ms. Henan car advocate (i.e. Zhang Liang, the Tesla roof rights owner at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show (a pseudonym)) and Mr. Han, the Tianjin Tesla owner (i.e. Han Chao, the successful owner of Tianjin Tesla's second-hand car rights).
On May 17, Mr. Feng and Zhang Liang said in a telephone interview with reporters of the daily economic news that after communicating with Chen Jun, they learned that the content of the apology letter was not written by the parties themselves, but drafted by Tesla. "The owner of Wenzhou told me that he had to, because the court had enforced it. If he didn't release it like this, he couldn't go home." Zhang Liang told reporters.
In this regard, on May 17, a person familiar with Tesla said in a telephone interview with reporters: "the content of the apology letter is jointly reached by both parties, and then the car owner releases it voluntarily. No one coerces anyone to do it."
It is worth mentioning that the above apology letter has been deleted less than three days after its release. However, in the view of Mr. Feng, Zhang Liang and others, this did not eliminate the adverse impact of the letter of apology on them. "At present, I am still communicating with him (Chen Jun) and will reserve the right to sue him." Zhang Liang told reporters.
On May 20, an insider close to Chen Jun disclosed to the reporter of the daily economic news that Chen Jun may issue a new letter of apology.
After the appraisal opinion is issued
The owner admitted that "the accelerator is the brake"
The above-mentioned reputation dispute between Wenzhou car owners and Tesla can be traced back to August 12, 2020. The accident not only caused damage to more than 10 cars, but also injured the owner Chen Jun and was hospitalized. In an interview with reporters, Chen Jun said that when the vehicle was about 100 meters away from the parking lot, it suddenly accelerated and the brake failed, which finally led to the accident. To this end, Chen Jun released relevant remarks and videos about the accident on Tiktok and other major platforms.
Photo source: provided by the owner
On June 9, 2021, Tesla (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. took Chen Jun to court on the grounds of deliberately fabricating Tesla's sudden acceleration brake failure, falsely claiming that the vehicle suddenly lost control and automatically accelerated, and maliciously slandering Tesla and Tesla's "Tesla" brand vehicles, and put forward a request for infringement damages of up to 500000 yuan and a public apology.
In October of the same year, the first instance judgment of the case obtained by the reporter from Tesla showed that the people's Court of Lucheng District, Wenzhou City ruled that the defendant Chen Jun publicly apologized to Tesla on the Tiktok platform for no less than 90 days and paid 50000 yuan in compensation.
As the first instance lawyer of the reputation dispute between Chen Jun and Tesla, Ren Guangdong, a lawyer of Beijing Yingke (Xi'an) law firm (hereinafter referred to as Yingke Law Firm), said in a telephone interview with reporters on May 18 that the trial process of the first instance was very beneficial to the defendant. After the trial, Tesla twice took the initiative to find the owner (Chen Jun) for mediation, but they were rejected. Therefore, the defendant's defeat in the first instance surprised him.
"When the trial period of the first instance has expired, the judge asked us to sign a document extending the trial period by 15 days. During these 15 days, the judge in charge of the case went to the local traffic police brigade to obtain the transcript of Chen Jun's conversation, and only the transcript of his' admitting to stepping on the wrong Brake 'for the last time." Ren Guangdong said.
Photo source: provided by the owner
The reporter learned that Chen Jun made four inquiry records in the traffic police brigade. The first three times clearly showed that he did not misoperate. It was the fault of "brake failure" of the vehicle. However, in the record of the fourth inquiry, he changed his statement and admitted that he stepped on the wrong Brake and caused the accident. "Because the case is not closed, the insurance claim caused by the accident cannot be carried out, but other car owners keep coming to the door to ask me for compensation. Finally, in order to settle the insurance claim, (I) had to change the statement and make the record of the fourth inquiry." Chen Jun told reporters.
In the view of Guangdong, Chen Jun admitted that the last record of "stepping on the wrong Brake" was the key to his losing the lawsuit. "Independent recognition is legally called self admission. After self admission, it is difficult to be overthrown." Ren Guangdong explained.
In a chat with Zhang Liang, Chen Jun also said, "it was because of my last record in the traffic police brigade that the court ruled like this."
Ren Guangdong suggested that in the process of safeguarding their rights, consumers must first understand relevant laws and regulations and grasp the scale and boundary. "Taking Chen Jun's case as an example, he can protect his legitimate rights and interests by speaking out through major network platforms, but only state the facts and don't say some slander or guiding words, which is easy to be held by the other party." Ren Guangdong said.
However, Chen Jun appealed to Wenzhou intermediate people's court in Zhejiang Province after losing the first instance because he felt he was "wronged". However, Chen Jun's appeal was not accepted by the court and the final judgment was "upheld".
The final judgment of the reputation dispute case obtained by the reporter - the civil judgment of Wenzhou intermediate people's court in Zhejiang Province (hereinafter referred to as the civil judgment) shows that the appraisal opinion of the accident vehicle provided by Wenzhou automotive engineering society clearly states that no mechanical faults and potential safety hazards have been found in all parts of the vehicle involved in the case, and the brake pedal has not been pressed 5 seconds before the collision. After the issuance of the appraisal opinion, Chen Jun admitted that he did not step on the brake at that time, but stepped on the accelerator as the brake. Therefore, the appraisal conclusion of the appraisal opinion was adopted. This accident was caused by Chen Jun's improper operation in case of condition, and Chen Jun assumed full responsibility for the accident.
Source: Zhang Liang
At the same time, the civil judgment pointed out that after the above appraisal opinion and accident determination, Chen Jun still published information about damage to Tesla's reputation that was inconsistent with the facts on the Tiktok platform and Sina Weibo platform, which constituted an infringement on Tesla's reputation.
To this end, the intermediate people's Court of Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province made a final judgment upholding the original judgment, requiring Chen Jun not only to publicly apologize to Tesla, but also to compensate Tesla 50000 yuan within 10 days from the date of entry into force of the judgment.
According to a "Notice of enforcement issued by Lucheng District People's court" published by Zhang Liang on her personal microblog account "coral in freshwater", Tesla (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. applied to the court for enforcement, and Lucheng court filed a case for enforcement according to law on April 24, 2022.
Three "rights protection" car owners questioned the letter of apology
On May 9, Chen Jun admitted in his letter of apology that he stepped on the wrong brake to avoid the pedestrian in front of him in the Tesla crash on August 12, 2021; After the accident, he was unwilling to do so, fabricated brake failure, fabricated "Tesla automatic acceleration brake failure" and cherished life away from Tesla in interviews with Tiktok, Weibo, radio, etc.
In the above apology letter, Chen Jun also said that his implementation of the above-mentioned relevant acts was that other self proclaimed "rights protection" car owners took the initiative to contact themselves, including Mr. Feng, a car owner in Shanghai who provided him with a legal platform, Mr. Han Chao, the first successful rights protection car owner in Tianjin (i.e. Han Chao), and Zhang nvshi, a car owner in Henan (i.e. Zhang Liang).
"What is the relationship between the legal proceedings between the plaintiff and the defendant and me? If I lose the lawsuit, writing an apology letter should focus on what happened between the plaintiff and the defendant and what is the relationship with outsiders. Why should I write my name in the apology letter?" Han Chao continuously released several pieces of content on his personal microblog and publicly questioned that the content of the apology letter was "self directed and self performed" by Tesla.
Source: Sina Weibo (@ ID Han Chao)
Zhang Liang and Mr. Feng also told reporters that the reference to outsiders in the letter of apology was unreasonable. Zhang Liang also provided reporters with screenshots and chat records of Chen Jun's initiative to add her wechat, proving that it is not true that she took the initiative to find Chen Jun mentioned in the apology letter. "It was the owner of Wenzhou who contacted me. I asked him who he was." Zhang Liang said.
In response to the statement mentioned in the apology letter that "Mr. Feng introduced a platform, and the platform arranged lawyers, and all the fees of lawyers in the first instance were paid by the platform, but he did not pay any lawyer fees in the first instance", Mr. Feng told reporters that he only shared the information of a legal platform with Chen Jun, and suggested that he find more lawyers. Finally, Chen Jun decided to hire Ren Guangdong recommended by the platform as the attorney of the first instance. At the second instance, Chen Jun changed other lawyers himself. The platform does not bear all the costs of acting as a lawyer, but only the agency fees in the first instance. This platform is a shared legal service platform, which can provide free legal aid. He has no capital and interest exchanges with the platform and Chen Jun.
In this regard, the reporter also asked Ren Guangdong for confirmation. "I don't know what kind of relationship is between the platform and him (Chen Jun) and whether he has funded him, but he must have signed an agency contract with our law firm, and he directly paid the corresponding lawyer's fees to PCCW." Ren Guangdong said.
Mr. Feng told reporters that Chen Jun's above "infringement" began in mid August 2020, and Chen Jun joined the "Tesla accident survivors group" on March 10, 2021. "The reason why I introduced the relevant legal platform to him was that after he was sued, he asked for help from his car friends, saying that it was difficult to find a lawyer locally and bear the expenses." Mr. Feng said that Chen Jun's rights protection has a clear independent view, and no one interferes and guides.
It is worth mentioning that the letter of apology was deleted on the morning of May 12. "After the release of the letter of apology, the effect of partially eliminating the negative impact of Tesla has been achieved. We also did not specify the specific release deadline in the implementation, and any apology cannot last forever." Tesla China responded.
"What I want is that he will delete the contents of outsiders involved in our three cases, and make a public explanation on the formation of the contents of the apology letter and why he will involve us, so as to eliminate the impact on our reputation." Mr. Feng said that the deletion of the full text of the apology letter did not meet the "90 day" time requirement of the court judgment, nor did it eliminate the impact of the previous apology letter on them.
To this end, the reporter tried to contact Chen Jun through wechat, telephone and other means, but they were rejected.
Tesla: the content formation procedure of the apology letter is proper and legal
It is reported that Zhang Liang has sent a lawyer's letter to Chen Jun. Zhang Liang told reporters that she had two demands: first, the content of the outsider mentioned in the apology letter was released without verification with relevant personnel. I hope the court can give her a reasonable explanation; Secondly, the owner of Wenzhou reissued an apology statement and explained that the deleted apology statement was not from his true will. "Otherwise, I will reserve the right to sue Wenzhou car owners." Zhang Liang said.
Source: Zhang Liang
The reporter found that whether from the chat records between Han Chao and Chen Jun publicly released, or the response content of Mr. Feng and Zhang Liang when interviewed by reporters, Chen Jun conveyed to the outside world that the content of his apology letter was not written by him, but drafted by Tesla, and he was forced to send it. For example, "the letter of apology was drafted by Tesla and I didn't add anything", "Tesla originally wrote more and deleted some inappropriate words at my strong request".
Source: Sina Weibo (@ ID Han Chao)
According to a recording of Chen Jun's family talking to Zhang Liang about the content of the apology letter, Chen Jun's family said on the phone, "the apology letter must have been drafted by the other party (Tesla) and completed through online communication."
Ren Guangdong told reporters that Tesla could not draft a letter of apology for the defendant. From the legal level, if there is such a judgment requiring an apology, the content must be written by myself, and the court will check it finally. "If I insist on not writing, the court can write a similar thing and send it to the relevant media, but this part of the relevant expenses must still be borne by the apologizing party. There has been no such situation that the other party has written an apology letter." Ren Guangdong said.
In the face of external doubts, Tesla China only said: "the discussion of the contents of the letter of apology was formed under the witness of the judge. Finally, Chen (the owner of the party) confirmed all the contents and released them voluntarily. All the contents of the letter of apology can stand scrutiny and are in line with the objective reality."
However, the reporter learned from a recording of his call with judge Xia, the relevant person in charge of Lucheng District People's court provided by Mr. Feng that Lucheng District People's court did not explicitly examine and approve the content of the letter of apology. "The letter of apology involved in this case was issued after a collegial discussion reached by the applicant and the licensee on their own. We failed to pass the explicit examination." Xia FA official said.
Source: Mr. Feng
In this regard, on May 17, the reporter of "daily economic news" verified with judge Xia. He replied: "the telephone content between me and Mr. Feng has been restored by Mr. Feng, and there is not much else to say." According to judge Xia, the applicant has applied to the court for the closure of the reputation dispute case, but the court has not yet approved the closure.
"In theory, the content of the apology needs to be reviewed and checked by the court before it can be released." Ren Guangdong said.
"The whole process of forming the content of the letter of apology must be legitimate and legal, and it is a 'copy' formed under the principle of voluntariness of both parties. This matter must be solved under the legal framework." The relevant person in charge of Tesla China said in an interview with reporters.