Tesla shareholders say Elon Musk will get a fair trial in California ‘Secure Funding’ lawsuit
Tesla shareholders have argued that it would be unfair to move the trial to Texas as demanded by Musk, who has outraged many in Northern California with the deep job cuts he has ordered to Twitter, a San Francisco company he bought in October.
“What they call ‘biased’ coverage is actually a factual report about his handling of Twitter and has no bearing on the jury’s ability to reach a fair verdict,” the shareholders’ filing said.
Musk’s lawyers requested on January 6 that the federal judge delay or move the trial to Texas because of media coverage of the Twitter job cuts that was “inflammatory” compared to balanced reports of the layoffs in other companies in town like Lyft.
Videos of an audience booing Musk during a surprise appearance at a Dave Chappelle show in San Francisco in December have surfaced online. “Looks like some of the people you fired are in the audience,” the comedian said in the clip.
Musk later admitted it was “lots of boos” and added in a now-deleted tweet, “It’s almost like I offended the lopsided lefties in SF…but nahhh.”
Tesla moved its headquarters from the San Francisco area to Texas in 2021.
The trial is due to begin Jan. 17 and features testimony from Musk about his behind-the-scenes efforts in 2018 to secure funding to buy the electric vehicle maker.
The judge will hear arguments on the requested venue change on Friday.
Shareholders accuse Musk of causing billions of dollars in losses to investors by making false and misleading statements to artificially inflate the stock price. Musk tweeted in August 2018 that he had “secure funding” to take Tesla private, triggering 10 days of volatile trading in its stocks, bonds and options.
The defendants, which also include Tesla and its board at the time, will argue that Musk did not mislead investors in any meaningful way. Musk had met with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the managing director of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, on several occasions, according to the court filing, which also said Al-Rumayyan urged Musk to take Tesla private and offered up to $60 billion. (about Rs 4,90,290 crore) in support.
Al-Rumayyan is among witnesses expected to testify along with Oracle Corp co-founder Larry Ellison and James Murdoch, son of Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch, according to court documents.
US District Court Judge Edward Chen determined in May that the 2018 tweets were false and reckless. The jury will determine whether the statements actually impacted Tesla’s stock price, whether Musk acted knowingly, and whether and to what extent he should award damages.
© Thomson Reuters 2023