Musk will not settle ‘pedo man’ defamation lawsuit, lawyer says

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – An lawyer for Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of electrical automobile maker Tesla, mentioned on Tuesday that his consumer had no intention of settling a defamation go well with introduced by a British cave explorer earlier than the case goes to trial on Dec. 3.

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX proprietor and Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives on the pink carpet for the car awards “Das Goldene Lenkrad” (The golden steering wheel) given by a German newspaper in Berlin, Germany, November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Vernon Unsworth is suing Musk for calling him a “pedo man” in one in every of a sequence of tweets. Musk posted the tweets after Unsworth accused Musk in a CNN interview of grandstanding by providing to assist Unsworth’s diving staff rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a collapse Thailand in July 2018.

Requested after Tuesday’s session in U.S. District Courtroom in Los Angeles if there was any probability Musk would settle earlier than the civil trial, his lawyer Alex Spiro advised Reuters: “No.”

The defamation go well with is without doubt one of the final remaining points hanging over Musk from a turbulent interval in 2018 and early 2019, throughout which the tech entrepreneur’s use of Twitter and his private conduct rattled Tesla shareholders and drew stress from regulators.

Legal professionals for Musk and Unsworth argued for a second day on Tuesday about proof that could possibly be utilized in subsequent week’s trial. U.S. District Decide Stephen Wilson mentioned these arguments would proceed on Monday earlier than he gives a written ruling.

Unsworth’s lawyer L. Lin Wooden desires to current a sequence of emails Musk wrote to a Buzzfeed reporter in August of final yr, together with one during which he advised the reporter to “cease defending youngster rapists.”

Unsworth’s authorized staff withdrew the Buzzfeed emails from the idea of its defamation go well with final week, and is suing now just for the 4 tweets Musk printed in July 2018. However Wooden advised the court docket he desires to current the emails as supporting proof pointing to Musk’s “mind-set” within the authentic tweets.

Musk has apologized for the “pedo man” remark, saying it was a standard insult in his native nation of South Africa, and that he didn’t intend to accuse Unsworth of pedophilia.


Spiro advised the court docket Musk was “not making an attempt to dam proof” by wanting the emails excluded.

“(However) from our perspective, that is making an attempt to backdoor proof,” which, Spiro mentioned, may prejudice a possible jury after Wooden eliminated the emails from the defamation declare in opposition to Musk.

Legal professionals for either side mentioned on Monday that Musk and Unsworth would testify in what guarantees to be a combative trial. 

“Proof goes to be by way of Mr. Musk (testifying) that the truth is Mr. Musk didn’t name him a pedophile. Mr. Musk deleted the tweet, apologized and moved on,” Spiro advised the court docket.

Unsworth, who’s searching for compensatory and punitive damages, will present proof of damages by “speaking about his worries, his anxieties, his concern by being branded a pedophile,” Wooden advised the court docket on Monday.

Final week, Wilson rejected Musk’s try and have the lawsuit dismissed and in addition dominated that Unsworth was not a public determine – which makes it simpler to show defamation.

Unsworth can now win if he exhibits Musk acted negligently in making his feedback.

Slideshow (Three Pictures)

The dispute between the 2 males arose after the cave search staff in Thailand determined to not use a mini-submarine provided by Musk’s SpaceX rocket firm to assist with the rescue. Unsworth advised CNN the supply was a “PR stunt” and Musk may “stick his submarine the place it hurts.”

The case is Unsworth v Musk, U.S. District Courtroom, Central District of California, No. 18-08048.

(This story in sixth paragraph corrects quote to say “cease defending youngster rapists,” not “cease defending a toddler rapist”)

Reporting by Rachel Parsons; writing by Invoice Tarrant; Enhancing by Leslie Adler

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

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