Musk can't dodge 'pedo guy' suit
US judge rejects 'imaginative insult' defence claim by serial tweeter
published : 27 Apr 2019 at 11:55
writer: Bloomberg News
LOS ANGELES: Elon Musk can’t duck behind an “imaginative insult” defence to escape a lawsuit by a British cave rescuer who took offence at being called a “pedo guy” after he had ridiculed the American entrepreneur’s mini-submarine.
A federal judge in Los Angeles on Friday denied the request of the Tesla Inc chief executive officer to dismiss Vernon Unsworth’s defamation complaint. The judge said a written ruling explaining his order would come later.
The spat with Unsworth erupted after the caver dismissed the mini-submarine Musk had built to assist in the rescue of the Wild Boars football team that became trapped in the flooded Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai in July last year. Their plight and eventual rescue by a team of volunteers from many countries was one of the world’s biggest news stories last year.
Unsworth said in a CNN interview that the mini-submarine, which wasn’t used in the rescue, was a “PR stunt” and that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts”.
Musk’s tweeting habits, particularly regarding Tesla’s business, have landed him in hot water with investors and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Under a settlement with the SEC last year, he’s supposed to have the company oversee his Tesla-related tweets that could influence the market. A February tweet about 2019 Tesla deliveries prompted the SEC to go to court to accuse Musk of violating the agreement. Musk and the SEC on Friday agreed anew to settle the dispute.
John Hueston, a lawyer for Musk, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.
The case is Unsworth v Musk, 18-cv-08048, US District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).