Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to move a lawsuit in a shareholder lawsuit out of San Francisco because he says negative local media coverage has biased potential jurors against him.
Instead, in a filing late Friday — less than two weeks before the trial begins on Jan. 17 — Musk’s attorneys argue he should be transferred to federal court for the Western District of Texas. This district includes the state capital of Austin, where Musk moved his electric car company, Tesla, in late 2021.
The shareholder lawsuit stems from Musk’s tweets in August 2018 when he said he had enough funding to take Tesla private at $420 per share – an announcement that caused high volatility in Tesla’s share price. You’re here.
In a victory for shareholders last spring, Judge Edward Chen ruled that Musk’s tweets were false and reckless.
If it’s not possible to move the trial, Musk’s lawyers want it postponed until the negative publicity surrounding the billionaire’s purchase of Twitter has dissipated.
“Over the past few months, local media has saturated this district with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk,” attorney Alex Spiro wrote in a court filing. These articles personally blamed Musk for the recent layoffs on Twitter, Spiro wrote, and accused the job cuts of even violating laws.
The shareholders’ attorneys pointed to the timing of the last-minute request, saying, “Musk’s concerns are unfounded and his motion is without merit.”
“The Northern District of California is the appropriate location for this lawsuit and where it has been actively litigated for more than four years,” attorney Nicholas Porritt wrote in an email.
Musk’s attorneys’ filing also notes that Twitter has laid off about 1,000 San Francisco-area residents since it bought the company in late October.
“A significant portion of the jury pool … is likely to have a personal and material bias against Mr. Musk following recent layoffs at one of his companies because individual potential jurors – or their friends and relatives – may have been personally affected,” the filing says.
Musk has also been criticized by the mayor of San Francisco and other local officials for the job cuts, according to the filing.