Elon Musk rebuffed in bid to move Tesla tweet trial to Texas

A federal decide rejected Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s bid to maneuver or delay a trial over a deceptive tweet a couple of potential buyout of the electrical automaker, setting the stage for the mercurial billionaire to be thrust right into a authorized drama amid the turmoil of his Twitter takeover.
| Picture Credit score: AP

A federal decide on Friday rejected Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s bid to maneuver or delay a trial over a deceptive tweet a couple of potential buyout of the electrical automaker, setting the stage for the mercurial billionaire to be thrust right into a authorized drama amid the turmoil of his Twitter takeover.

The choice by U.S. District Choose Edward Chen got here throughout a listening to held in San Francisco federal court docket to go over the ultimate particulars of a trial scheduled to start on Tuesday with jury choice.

Musk’s attorneys final week requested Chen to switch the trial to a federal court docket in Texas, the place Tesla strikes its headquarters in 2021, arguing that destructive protection of Musk since his $44 billion buy of Twitter in October had poisoned the jury pool within the San Francisco Bay Space.

However Chen brushed apart these considerations on Friday, and expressed confidence {that a} panel of neutral jurors could possibly be drawn from a area populated by tens of millions of individuals. He additionally famous {that a} jury was pulled collectively for trial within the extremely publicized prison trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, whose transformation from a Silicon Valley star to accused swindler was the topic of an HBO documentary and e book earlier than these proceedings started in close by San Jose, California.

Holmes, 38, is now dealing with greater than 11 years in federal jail of being convicted of investor fraud and conspiracy.

Musk’s upcoming trial revolves round a civil lawsuit introduced on behalf of Tesla shareholders who allege they had been duped by an August 7, 2018 tweet by which he indicated he had lined up financing for a Tesla buyout — a deal that by no means materialized and resulted in a $40 million settlement with U.S. securities regulators.

Chen already has decided that Musk’s buyout tweet was false, leaving it to a jury to resolve whether or not he acted recklessly by posting it and whether or not it triggered monetary hurt to Tesla shareholders. After adjusting for 2 inventory splits made since 2018, Tesla’s shares at the moment are value almost six occasions greater than on the time of Musk’s tweets concerning the bogus buyout.

Tesla’s inventory was even value much more earlier than Musk determined to purchase Twitter for a value that even he conceded was excess of the corporate was value. Tesla’s shares, at present hovering round $120, have misplaced almost half their worth since Musk took management of Twitter, partially affecting investor considerations that he’s spending an excessive amount of time operating privately held Twitter as an alternative of focusing on the automaker answerable for most of his fame and wealth at a time it is dealing with more durable competitors.

Musk, 51, has mentioned he will step down as Twitter’s CEO as soon as he can find a replacement, however has not set a timetable for handing off the reins. To assist cut back Twitter’s losses and cut back the huge debt stemming from the acquisition, Musk has laid off about half of that firm’s workers and is dealing with allegations of refusing to pay the hire at some workplaces.

Media protection of mass layoffs and other cutbacks at Twitter had been one of many foremost causes that Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, argued for the trial to be moved or not less than delayed till the backlash to the tough measures died down.

However the attorneys representing Tesla shareholders within the case argued Musk solely has himself guilty for any destructive perceptions, largely due to his frequent exercise on Twitter, the social media platform that he now owns and runs.

“For higher or worse, Musk is a celeb who garners consideration from the media across the globe,” the shareholders’ attorneys wrote of their 19-page opposition to the switch request. “His footprint on Twitter alone is partially guilty for that. If ‘destructive’ consideration was all that was required to disqualify a jury pool, Musk would successfully be untriable earlier than a jury given his knack for attracting ’destructive” protection.”

After sifting via about 200 juror questionnaires submitted earlier this week, Spiro argued a lot of them had been peppered with derogatory remarks about Musk that underscored how troublesome it will likely be for him to get a good trial.

A few of these unflattering remarks surfaced throughout Friday’s listening to as Chen pored via the questionnaires in preparation for Tuesday’s jury choice. The decide disqualified jurors who he mentioned had variously described Musk as an “fool” and a “buffoon.”

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