Judge says comment was more than an opinion
Elon Musk has a trial date over allegedly defaming a detractor in a series of tweets, a U.S. judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson has ordered an Oct. 22 trial for Musk against a lawsuit brought by Vernon Unsworth, Reuters reported Friday. Musk and the British diver became embroiled in a Twitter fight in July 2018 that resulted in the Tesla CEO calling Unsworth, “pedo guy,” as part of an exchange between the two. Unsworth, part of a team that rescued a boys soccer team from a cave in Thailand, drew ire from Musk after calling SpaceX‘s efforts to perform the rescue a PR stunt.
Musk’s defense team has written off the insults as hyperbole, but the U.S. judge last month denied the request to dismiss the suit brought by Unsworth. In calling for the trial, Judge Wilson said a jury would not “necessarily” see Musk’s comments as factual, pointing to an email the CEO sent to a BuzzFeed reporter that intended to prompt an investigation into Unsworth and said to, “stop defending child rapists,” continuing the idea the British man was involved in unverified crimes.
In his lawsuit, Unsworth has requested at least $75,000 in compensatory damages plus punitive damages from Musk.
Just last month, Musk and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved a revision to a deal reached in October that laid out parameters for the executive’s social media posting. Not that it’s prevented Tesla’s Twitter postings to be more restrained.