LOS ANGELES (Information) – Tesla (TSLA.O) founder Elon Musk ought to pay at the very least $190 million in damages for defaming a British cave explorer in tweets that recommended he was a pedophile and have been like a “nuclear bomb,” the plaintiff’s lawyer stated on Friday.
FILE PHOTO: Elon Musk walks along with his face turned away from cameras as he arrives at court docket for trial in a defamation case filed by British cave diver Vernon Unsworth who’s suing the Tesla Inc chief government for calling him a “pedo man” in one among a collection of tweets, because the case begins in Los Angeles, California, U.S., December four, 2019. Information/David McNew
In his closing argument at Musk’s defamation trial, the lawyer for Vernon Unsworth stated his consumer would really feel the sting from Musk’s calling him a “pedo man” for a few years to come back, affecting his relationships and job prospects, and jurors ought to train the “billionaire bully” a lesson.
A minimum of $150 million of the proposed payout can be punitive damages, which Unsworth’s lawyer L. Lin Wooden stated “can be a tough slap on the wrist” for Musk, who through the trial estimated his personal internet value at $20 billion.
“He dropped a nuclear bomb on Vernon Unsworth,” Wooden stated, referring to Musk.
A lawyer for Musk may also ship a closing argument on Friday and the three-man, five-woman jury might start deliberating later within the day. The trial in federal court docket in Los Angeles started on Tuesday.
The case is believed to be the primary main defamation lawsuit by a personal particular person to go to trial over tweets.
Musk might attraction if the jury finds him liable or imposes a big damages award.
Unsworth gained fame when he helped coordinate the rescue of a boys’ soccer group and its coach from a flooded Thailand cave, which was accomplished efficiently on July 10, 2018.
Three days later, Unsworth gave an interview on CNN the place he criticized Musk’s provide of a mini-submarine to assist with the rescue as a “PR stunt” and that Musk might “stick his submarine the place it hurts.”
Two days later, on July 15, 2018, Musk fired off the three tweets underlying the lawsuit, questioning Unsworth’s function within the rescue and calling him “pedo man,” with no proof.
In his personal testimony, the 48-year-old Musk referred to as the tweets an “off the cuff” response to viewing a replay of the interview.
He stated it was maybe borne of fatigue from spending 80 to 100 hours every week operating Tesla, which makes electrical automobiles, and SpaceX, the rocket firm the place the mini-submarine would have come from.
Unsworth, 64, testified on Thursday that his personal insult was “to not Mr. Musk personally” and declined to apologize.
“I’m undecided how I must apologize. It was my opinion on the time and I stand by that opinion,” Unsworth stated when cross-examined by one among Musk’s attorneys.
The trial has revived dialogue of Musk’s erratic conduct throughout 2018.
This included when he used Twitter to drift a leveraged buyout proposal for Tesla that was nowhere close to a actuality, prompting a U.S. Securities and Change Fee lawsuit that he paid $20 million to settle.
For many of 2019, Musk, who has greater than 29.9 million Twitter followers, has largely saved his public feedback targeted on Tesla’s new fashions and improved profitability and on the technical progress of his SpaceX aerospace firm.
To win the case, Unsworth should show Musk was negligent in publishing a falsehood that clearly recognized him and brought about him hurt.
He doesn’t want to point out Musk acted with “precise malice,” which is way more durable to show.
If jurors discovered Musk liable, their evaluation of what he had been considering would doubtless have an effect on the quantity of punitive damages they assess.
Extra reporting by Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Modifying by Edwina Gibbs and Grant McCool