Musk seeks to move trial out of San Francisco
Elon Musk urges moving a shareholder lawsuit trial out of San Francisco to avoid "negative local media coverage."
Elon Musk made a plea to a federal judge to move a shareholder lawsuit trial out of San Francisco, claiming that negative local media coverage has biased potential jurors against him.
Instead, Musk's lawyers argued in a late Friday filing, less than two weeks before it was scheduled to begin on January 17, that the trial should be moved to the federal court in the western district of Texas. This district includes Austin, the state capital, where Musk's electric car company Tesla relocated in late 2021.
The shareholder lawsuit stems from Musk's tweets in August 2018, when he stated that he had enough financing to take Tesla private at $420 per share, causing significant volatility in Tesla's share price.
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Judge Edward Chen ruled, during a victory for the shareholders last spring, that Musk’s tweets were false and reckless.
“For the last several months, the local media have saturated this district with biased and negative stories about Musk,” his attorney Alex Spiro wrote in a court filing. Those news items have personally blamed Musk for recent layoffs at Twitter, Spiro wrote, and have charged that the job cuts may have even violated laws.
The shareholders’ attorneys emphasized the last-minute timing of the request, saying: “Musk’s concerns are unfounded and his motion is meritless.”
“The northern district of California is the proper venue for this lawsuit and where it has been actively litigated for over four years,” attorney Nicholas Porritt wrote in an email.
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According to Musk's attorneys, Twitter has laid off approximately 1,000 people in the San Francisco area since he purchased the company in late October.
“A substantial portion of the jury pool…is likely to hold a personal and material bias against Musk as a result of recent layoffs at one of his companies as individual prospective jurors – or their friends and relatives – may have been personally impacted,” the filing said.
According to the filing, Musk has also been chastised by San Francisco's mayor and other local officials for the job cuts.