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Courtroom was ‘largely empty’ for Elon Musk verdict

By Lauren Barry,


SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk was cleared Friday by a jury of any wrong-doing in a class action lawsuit alleging that he misled investors with tweets from 2018, before he bought the social media platform.

KCBS Radio’s Patti Reising and Bret Burkhart spoke with Wilson Walker, a KPIX-5 reporter who has been covering the trial.

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“I think the first thing that should be said is that the speed with which the verdict was returned, I would say, was maybe universally surprising,” said Walker. “It came back so fast that the courtroom was largely empty.”

In the 2018 tweets, Musk claimed he was considering buying back shares of Tesla at $420 per share and taking the company private. That move would have cost billions and he did not go through with it. Today, Tesla remains a publicly traded company.

Plaintiffs in the case against Musk alleged that they were Tesla shareholders who “lost significant portions of their investments in the wake of the share price volatility following the tweet,” according to CNN Business . They were seeking monetary damages from Musk, Tesla and other Tesla directors, per the outlet.

However, the unanimous jury verdict delivered Friday in U.S. District Court after a three-week long trial did not find Musk liable. CNN Business said the tweet in question said “funding secured” and it referred to a discussion with executives of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

“Those two words resulted in the CEO having to forfeit his position as Tesla’s executive chairman and pay millions of dollars in fines and legal fees,” the outlet said.

According to Walker, even Musk was not in the court room for the reading of the verdict Friday, though he had been there earlier in the day.
While the verdict’s speed came as a surprise to many people, Walker said that Alex Spiro, Musk’s lead attorney, wasn’t one of them.

“But the plaintiff’s attorney said they were disappointed,” Walker added.

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