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After a three-day trial, Elon Musk was found not liable for defamation in a federal court today in Los Angeles, where Musk reportedly owns a cluster of six homes as well as oversees the operations of both SpaceX and Tesla. British diver Vernon Unsworth had brought the suit against Musk in the fall of 2018 after Musk tweeted that Unsworth was a "pedo guy," meaning a pedophile. Why: after Musk and his employees developed what they called a mini-submarine or escape pod to save a children's soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand in July of 2018, Unsworth -- a stranger to Musk and an experienced diver with specific knowledge of the cave -- called the production a "PR stunt" when asked about the effort in an interview with CNN.
LOS ANGELES — Elon Musk arrived on Friday at a federal court in Los Angeles looking relaxed in a dark-colored suit, as a trial over whether the Tesla founder defamed a British cave explorer with tweets suggesting he was a pedophile approached its end. Lawyers for Musk and the cave explorer Vernon Unsworth are expected to deliver closing arguments later in the day, and the three-man, five-woman jury is expected to begin deliberating shortly afterward. Jurors must decide unanimously whether Musk, 48, defamed Unsworth with three July 15, 2018 tweets, and if so how much the billionaire must pay in damages.
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Elon Musk won his defence against a charge of defamation on Friday afternoon, when a jury in Los Angeles found for the Tesla boss after less than an hour of deliberation. Vernon Unsworth, a British diver, had sought $190m in damages over tweets Mr Musk sent last year that included calling him “pedo guy”. “My faith in humanity is restored,” Mr Musk said as he left the court.
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Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk has won this battle. A Los Angeles jury on Friday ruled that Musk's use of Twitter to suggest a British spelunker was a pedophile didn’t amount to defamation. Musk has defended himself saying that “pedo guy” is a common insult in South Africa, where he grew up, and that Musk didn’t intend to accuse Unsworth of pedophilia with the words.
(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk beat back a defamation claim from a British cave expert who sued the billionaire CEO over a tweet in which Musk labeled Vernon Unsworth a “pedo guy.”A federal jury in Los Angeles Friday took about an hour to return a verdict that said Musk’s insult fell short of defamation.“We were pretty much unanimous from the word ‘go,”’ said Carl Shusterman, a 70-year-old immigration lawyer who served on a jury for the first time.Shusterman said the verdict was straight-forward because it wasn’t clear if the tweet was actually about Unsworth, since Musk didn’t name him. The judge told the jurors that was one of the elements required to establish defamation, Shusterman said.“My faith in humanity has been restored,” Musk said after the verdict.It’s another win for Musk, 48, who’s managed to get out of legal trouble relatively unscathed. Musk agreed to step down from his role of chairman of Tesla Inc. for three years in 2018 to settle a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit over a tweet the regulator said misled investors. But he’s run Tesla and SpaceX as usual.“It’s the last formal distraction from when Elon Musk went off the Twitter rails in 2018,” said Gene Munster of Loup Ventures. “Putting that to rest -- regardless of what the jury decided --is a step forward for Musk.”Unsworth had sought $190 million in damages for the harm he claimed to have suffered from the tweet, and to punish Musk. Musk said he fired off the tweet in anger after Unsworth insulted him and his team in a television interview.“I respect the jury’s decision,” Unsworth said after the verdict. “I’ll take it on the chin and move on.”His lawyers were less gracious, repeatedly referring to Musk as a “billionaire bully.”L. Lin Wood, one of Unsworth’s lawyer, said he wasn’t happy with the outcome. “He deserved a different kind of justice,” Wood said. Wood said he hasn’t decided whether to appeal the verdict.The four-day civil trial featured Wood, and Alex Spiro -- two heavyweights squaring off in the courtroom. Wood had represented Richard Jewell, the security guard falsely accused of being connected to the Centennial Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics.Spiro, a former prosecutor based in New York, lists rapper Jay-Z, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and several NBA players, including ex-Knick Charles Oakley as former clients.Spiro issued a five-word statement after the verdict.“The jury got it right,” he said.It was the first time that Musk has been called as a witness at a trial, despite numerous legal spats, including one with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over a tweet the regulator said misled investors.Musk told the jury the tweet aimed at Unsworth shouldn’t have been taken literally and was sent because the caver insulted his effort to help rescue members of a Thai soccer team from a flooded cave in 2018.The rescue effort had riveted the attention of the world’s media. Musk and engineers at his companies prepared a mini submarine, built with rocket parts, to help. The kids, aged 11 to 16, were saved without the use of the sub.The high-profile effort from the celebrity CEO drew derision from Unsworth, who knew the caves well and helped in the rescue effort. He told CNN that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts” and that it had no chance of working.Musk responded on Twitter, calling Unsworth a “pedo guy” and adding: “Never saw this British expat guy who lives in Thailand (sus) at any point when we were in the caves.” Sus -- meaning suspect, or suspicious.Later, he asked why Unsworth hadn’t sued him. Musk also hired a private investigator to dig into Unsworth’s personal life and leak information to British tabloids.Unsworth, a financial consultant who divides his time between England and Thailand, described to the jury the effect the tweet had on him.“When you combine ‘sus’ and ‘pedo guy,’ I took it as I was being branded a pedophile,” Unsworth said on Wednesday. “I feel vulnerable and sometimes, when I’m in the U.K., I feel isolated.”490 StoriesIt was a tweet heard around the world. An expert witness for Unsworth told the jury that 490 English-language stories were published mentioning the “pedo guy” tweet -- not including stories about the litigation.Musk, who had apologized to Unsworth on Twitter, did so again in court. But Unsworth told the jury he had nothing to apologize for to Musk.Musk told the jury he found Unsworth’s comments in the CNN interview wrong and insulting -- especially to his team which he said worked hard to help in the rescue effort -- and so he fired back.“I thought he was just some random, creepy guy that the media interviewed,” Musk said of Unsworth.Neither man impressed Shusterman, the juror. He said there was no need for Unsworth to put down Musk’s mini submarine, and Musk’s response was equally immature.“I felt it was like two junior high school students fighting,” Shusterman said.(Updates with juror’s comment in third paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org;Kelly Gilblom in London at email@example.com;Dana Hull in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at email@example.com, Joe Schneider, Steve StrothFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Even before the verdict came in Friday, Elon Musk had earned the sobriquet Teflon Man on Twitter.Once a jury decided that he hadn’t defamed a British man by calling him a “pedo guy” in a post on the social media platform -- Musk’s favorite -- his reputation as a controversy-stirring billionaire who escapes relatively unscathed from the firestorms he creates for himself seemed to be sealed.Dan Ives, a Wedbush Securities analyst who covers Tesla Inc., one of Musk’s companies, repeated it: “Right now he’s the Teflon man.” But, Ives added, “it’s a cautionary tale and hopefully situations like this don’t repeat.”There have been more than a few of those already for Musk, who is chief executive officer of Tesla and chairman and CEO of SpaceX. His boards have tolerated them, his fans love him all the more for his antics and investors don’t seem to mind. Tesla shares have rallied more than 60% in the past six months.The defamation lawsuit “was the last formal distraction from when Elon Musk went off the Twitter rails in 2018,” said Gene Munster of Loup Ventures.Even with the positive outcome for Musk, it remains a highly unusual case for a CEO.In July 2018, as the world was riveted by efforts to save a Thai youth soccer team stuck in a flooded cave, Musk’s engineers tried to help by making a mini submarine out of rocket parts. Vernon Unsworth, an expert caver instrumental in the rescue, told CNN that the mini-sub was little more than a publicity stunt. Musk fired off the “pedo guy” tweet -- and hired a private investigator to dig into Unsworth’s personal life and leak information to British tabloids.From there, Musk seemed to lurch from crisis to crisis -- and emerged each time with relatively mild consequences. Another Twitter post in August 2018 got him into hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission; the agency sued him for securities fraud because he said he was taking Tesla private at $420 a share and had “funding secured,” which he in fact did not. (Tesla is still a public company, by the way.)His settlement with the SEC cost him $20 million and stripped him of his board chairmanship for three years, but he kept running the company as before anyway.Then there was the famous pot-smoking episode on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast in September 2018. Photos of Musk puffing on a cigar-sized joint went viral in a case of unfortunate optics for SpaceX, which has a contract with NASA to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. Musk later acknowledged in an email to SpaceX employee that the stunt was “not wise.”Musk was back in the SEC’s sights this February with a Twitter post about Tesla production figures that the agency contended violated the settlement agreement. A judge declined the SEC’s request to hold Musk in contempt and told both sides to “put on your reasonableness pants” and work something out. They did, amending the original deal to include specific topics that Musk can’t tweet about without prior approval from a Tesla lawyer.On the highly active Twitterverse of Tesla watchers, Friday’s outcome brought a mix of condemnation and applause -- as well as marveling that Teflon Musk had struck again.Lin Wood, Unsworth’s attorney, had his own take: “Goliath wins almost every time.”To contact the reporter on this story: Dana Hull in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at email@example.com, Anne Reifenberg, Kara WetzelFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Less than a year after Amazon.com Inc. walked away from a planned headquarters in New York, the e-commerce giant has announced a significant expansion in midtown Manhattan.The company signed a lease for 335,000 square feet in the Hudson Yards neighborhood on the west side. The new office will accommodate more than 1,500 workers and is slated to open in 2021, according to an e-mailed statement.“As we shared earlier this year, we plan to continue to hire and grow organically across our 18 Tech Hubs, including New York City,” the Seattle-based company said.Amazon abandoned plans in February to build an additional headquarters in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood following fierce public criticism of tax breaks promised to the company, and concerns about the impact on housing costs and transportation. The move sent shock waves through New York’s real estate community, which worried that the city was becoming inhospitable to business.But recent months have shown that companies are still attracted to New York and its deep pool of talented workers. Facebook Inc. announced that it was leasing more than 1.5 million square feet at Hudson Yards last month. And Google is also in the midst of a major expansion in the city.Amazon said it is not receiving tax benefits or other incentives for its new office, which will be located in SL Green Realty Corp.’s building on 10th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets. The outpost will be roughly the same size as the company’s other corporate offices in New York, where it currently has more than 3,500 employees in its tech hub.Dow Jones reported the lease earlier on Friday.To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in Seattle at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Giammona at email@example.com, Linus Chua, Stanley JamesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Elon Musk did not defame a British diver by calling him ”pedo guy” in a tweet, a jury has found. Vernon Unsworth, who helped in the rescue of 12 boys trapped in a cave in Thailand last year, was seeking damages of $190 million from the Tesla CEO following the tweet. “My faith in humanity has been restored,” Musk said in court after the verdict was delivered.
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Elon Musk did not defame a British cave explorer when he called him “pedo guy” in an angry tweet, a Los Angeles jury found Friday.
Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk emerged victorious on Friday from a closely watched defamation trial as a federal court jury swiftly rejected the $190 million claim brought against him by a British cave explorer who Musk had branded a "pedo guy" on Twitter. The unanimous verdict by a panel of five women and three men was returned after roughly 45 minutes of deliberation on the fourth day of Musk's trial. Legal experts believe it was the first major defamation lawsuit brought by a private individual over remarks on Twitter to be decided by a jury.
A U.S. District Court jury in Los Angeles on Friday found in favour of Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk in the defamation lawsuit brought against him by a British cave explorer who Musk had branded a "pedo guy" on Twitter. The plaintiff, Vernon Unsworth, was seeking $190 million (£148 million) damages against Musk, who during the trial estimated his net worth at $20 billion.
(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk should pay $190 million in damages to a British cave expert who claims he was defamed by the chief executive of Tesla Inc. in a tweet, the caver’s lawyer told a jury at the end of a trial in Los Angeles.A jury of five women and three men will decide the issue. Before the panel began deliberating, shortly after 1 p.m. in Los Angeles, standing next to the defense table where Musk was seated, L. Lin Wood told them: “Elon Musk is a liar.”Wood asked the jury to award $5 million in actual damages, $35 million in assumed damages and $150 million in punitive damages.Musk called Vernon Unsworth a “pedo guy” in a tweet, responding to an interview the caver gave on television in which he criticized Musk’s effort to use a miniature submarine to rescue members of a soccer team trapped in a Thai cave in 2018.Musk had argued “pedo guy” actually meant “creepy old man,” but Wood said Musk knows that’s not true.“He dropped a bomb on this man,” Wood told the jury, as a tight-lipped Musk glared at the lawyer.Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro said in his closing argument that Unsworth hadn’t provided any evidence showing he was harmed by the tweets. Although he claimed on the stand to have suffered emotional damage from being a called a pedophile, Spiro said nobody believed he was accused of the crime.Spiro also argued that there had been no independent confirmation that Unsworth suffered emotionally. Unsworth’s Thai companion, Tik, was the only one who noticed when he had a “bad day,” the caver told the jury. But Tik never testified.“Tik’s been with him through this whole thing,” Spiro said. “Where’s Tik?”(Updates with Musk’s lawyer)To contact the reporters on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org;Dana Hull in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at firstname.lastname@example.org, Joe Schneider, Steve StrothFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The stock market shot upward Friday, following an unexpectedly strong surge in November job growth and the decline in unemployment to record lows.
An attorney told a Los Angeles federal jury Friday it would be reasonable to award $190 million in damages to a British cave explorer who is suing Elon Musk for allegedly branding him as a pedophile during a Twitter (TWTR) spat. Attorney Lin Wood said the suggested sum includes $150 million in punitive damages. The spat happened as Unsworth was involved in the rescue of a youth soccer team and its coach from a flooded cave in Thailand.
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