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'Teflon' Elon wins again as jury rejects fraud claim over tweets

Joel Rosenblatt, Bloomberg News on

Published in Business News

Elon Musk proved once again that he’s difficult to beat in court.

On Friday, a federal jury in San Francisco took just two hours to clear the Tesla Inc. chief executive officer of claims by investors that he defrauded them when he tweeted 4 1/2 years ago that he was considering taking the company private and had “funding secured” to make the deal happen.

The outcome marked another victory for the billionaire’s go-to lawyer, Alex Spiro, in a risky trial that many high-profile executives would have avoided by reaching an out-of-court settlement.

In 2019, Spiro persuaded a federal jury in Los Angeles to return a verdict for Musk in less than an hour in a defamation case brought by a British caver whom Musk called a “pedo guy” while they were exchanging insults on Twitter.

Friday’s verdict after a three-week trial in which Musk was the star witness shows that the entrepreneur once dubbed “Teflon” Elon for his ability to escape unscathed from legal scraps is still on a roll.

The outcome is a bitter loss for the shareholders who sought to recoup trading losses from fluctuations in Tesla shares after Musk posted the messages. Musk abandoned the take-private plan about two weeks after his initial tweets.

 

It’s an especially poignant vindication for Musk after his August 2018 tweets got him and Tesla sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and he reluctantly agreed to accept restrictions on his social media posts.

The victory will be cause for celebration for Musk’s fans on Twitter who support his vows to champion free speech on the social media platform he acquired in October for $44 billion.

“The jury got it right,” Spiro said after the verdict, declining further comment.

Nicholas Porritt, a lawyer for the investors, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

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