Elon Musk asked a federal judge for a shift in the trial of a shareholder lawsuit outside San Francisco. He claims that negative coverage by local media has biased potential jurors against his case.
Musk’s lawyers submitted a late Friday filing, less than two weeks before trial was scheduled to start on 17 January. Instead, they argue that it should be transferred to the western district federal court of Texas. This district includes Austin, the capital of Texas, where Musk moved his electric car company Tesla in late 2021.
Musk’s August 2018 tweets stating that he has sufficient financing to take Tesla private for $420 per share, which caused a lot of volatility in Tesla’s share prices, led to the shareholder lawsuit.
Judge Edward Chen ruled in favor of shareholders that Musk’s tweets had been reckless and false.
Musk’s lawyers request that the trial be moved if it is not possible. They want it to be postponed until negative media coverage regarding the billionaire’s acquisition of Twitter has died down.
Attorney Alex Spiro stated in court filing that “for the last few months, the local media has saturated this district with biased stories about Mr Musk.” Spiro stated that these news articles have personally blamed Musk and claimed that the job cuts might have violated laws.
The attorneys for the shareholders stressed the urgency of the request and stated that Musk’s concerns were unfounded, and that his motion was not meritorious.
Attorney Nicholas Porritt sent an email stating that “the northern district of California is the appropriate venue for this lawsuit” and that it has been active litigated for more than four years.
Musk’s lawyers also noted in their filing that Twitter has laid off approximately 1,000 people in San Francisco since Musk purchased the company in October.
According to the filing, “A substantial proportion of the jury pool…is likely to have a personal bias against Mr Musk due to recent layoffs at one his companies as individual potential jurors – their friends and family – may be personally impacted.”
According to the filing, Musk was also criticised by San Francisco’s mayor as well as other officials in the area for his job cuts.