A recent trial in the United States has resulted in Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and Twitter, being vindicated. The trial lasted three weeks and saw Tesla investors represented by a class-action lawsuit against Musk. The jury, a group of nine, reached their decision after less than two hours of deliberation. The verdict represents a significant win for Musk, who could have faced billions of dollars in damages if the jury found him liable for his tweets in 2018 regarding the electric automaker.
What led to this?
In 2018, Musk tweeted that he had the financing to take Tesla private, a statement that was later deemed false by the judge presiding over the trial. The trial hinged on whether Musk’s tweets misled Tesla shareholders and whether it cost them billions of dollars. The lawsuit revolved around two tweets Musk posted on August 7, 2018, about a potential Tesla buyout. The tweets caused the stock to surge, only to fall back after Musk abandoned the deal when it became clear he did not have a firm financing commitment.
Representatives for the plaintiffs vilified Musk as a reckless, rich narcissist, while defense lawyers hailed him as a visionary who was looking out for the “little guy.” During the trial, Musk took the stand and insisted that he believed he had lined up the funds from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to take Tesla private. He maintained that he intended to do what was right for all shareholders and that he had no ill motive.
Alex Spiro, Musk’s lawyer, argued that the 2018 tweets were “technically inaccurate” but that just because they were bad tweets did not make them fraudulent. Spiro pointed to Musk’s track record of starting and running successful companies, including Tesla, and described him as the kind of person who believes the impossible is possible. Nicholas Porritt, a lawyer for the Tesla shareholders, argued that Musk had a “loose relationship with the truth” and that rules should apply to him like everyone else.