Elon Musk Urges Judge To Move Tesla Trial To Texas Over Negative Publicity In San Francisco

Tesla, Inc (Nasdaq: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk has requested to move the upcoming trial for a shareholder lawsuit out of San Francisco, saying that bad press about his takeover of Twitter could cause potential jurors to be biased against him.

The motion, submitted late Friday, comes just a little over a week before the trial is set to begin on January 17. His lawyers argued that the trial should be moved to the western district of Texas. Musk relocated Tesla’s headquarters from San Francisco to Austin, which belongs to the western district, in late 2021.

Twitter, Musk’s recent acquisition, is headquartered in San Francisco. He has laid off over 1,000 residents of the city from the social media company since his takeover in late October, potentially impacting “a substantial portion of the jury pool,” his lawyer Alex Spiro said in the filing.

“For the last several months, the local media have saturated this district with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk,” Spiro wrote. Local (as well as national and international) news coverage has put the finger on Musk and his attempts to cut costs at the $44 billion company for the never-ending job cuts. The court filing also notes that San Francisco’s mayor and officials have criticized Musk for the layoffs.

The lawyers urged that if moving the trial is not possible, the court should instead delay until negative publicity about Musk’s management of Twitter subsides.

READ: “Don’t Be Bothered By Stock Market Craziness,” Elon Musk Tells Tesla Employees Despite Stock Compensation

The plaintiff’s lawyers, on the other hand, note the timing of Musk’s request and called his concerns “unfounded” and his motion “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 told the Associated Press.

Owning Twitter isn’t the first time the platform figured into the center of Musk’s troubles. The shareholder lawsuit claims that Musk manipulated the electric carmaker’s stock price in 2018 when he tweeted that he was thinking of taking the company private at $420 per share and had “funding secured.” 

Last spring, plaintiffs won an early victory when federal judge Edward Chen ruled that Musk had “recklessly made the statements with knowledge as to their falsity.” The trial on January 17 aims to determine if Musk’s tweet did impact Tesla’s stock price and whether he should be accountable for potential damages.

The same tweet has also earlier cost him a $40 million settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Information for this story was found via the Associated Press, and the other sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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