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Tesla Motors has accused former Autopilot director Sterling Anderson of poaching employees for a competing venture while he was still employed at Tesla, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday at the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara.
The suit alleges that Anderson teamed up with Chris Urmson, the former head of Google’s self-driving-car project, to launch a competing venture called Aurora Innovation while serving as Tesla’s director of Autopilot.
It also says that Anderson, who served as the director of Tesla’s Autopilot programs from November 2015 until December 2016, violated his contract by attempting to recruit at least a dozen Tesla engineers to work for the planned venture while he was still employed at Tesla.
The suit accuses Anderson of downloading “hundreds of gigabytes of data,” including sensitive company information, that he kept on hard drives that were not returned upon his termination. It claims Anderson took his Tesla laptop to Urmson’s home and accessed a document titled “Recruiting targets.”
Anderson, Urmson, and Aurora Innovation are listed as defendants in the case that seeks a jury trial.
“Tesla’s meritless lawsuit reveals both a startling paranoia and an unhealthy fear of competition,” Aurora wrote in a statement to Business Insider. “This abuse of the legal system is a malicious attempt to stifle a competitor and destroy personal reputations. Aurora looks forward to disproving these false allegations in court and to building a successful self-driving business.”
Tesla declined to comment for this story.
Anderson and Urmson did not immediately return Business Insider’s requests for comment.