December 7, 2019

Elon Musk — sued for defamation by the man he called "pedo guy" — has won at trial.

CNBC reports.
In his testimony during the defamation trial this week, Musk apologized to [Vernon] Unsworth and said he did not believe the cave explorer was a pedophile....

Musk and his employees developed a device that they billed as a mini-submarine or escape pod, and which they thought could transport the [trapped Thai] kids out of the caves.... After the rescue, Unsworth was asked during a television interview on CNN about the mini-sub and Musk. He said Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts,” and viewed the escape pod as “just a PR stunt.” Lashing back, Musk called the caver a “pedo guy”...

Musk’s lead attorney, Alex Spiro, in closing arguments characterized Musk’s offensive tweets as merely insulting and not statements of fact.
He argued that "pedo guy" was just a slang way to say "creepy old guy."
Spiro also said that Unsworth was telling the court, “I’ve been horribly damaged. Pay me lots of money,” but then failed to prove he had been damaged at all. Referencing the fact that Unsworth had earned a little money for speaking engagements since the cave rescue, he asked, “You wanna award damages? How about one dollar?” And he implored the court not to engage in policing speech.

30 comments:

Ryan said...

Correct result.

David Begley said...

Hell of a good result by Musk’s attorney.

n.n said...

A playground taunt invites a response in kind.

J. Farmer said...

Would have liked to see Musk lose for pure schadenfreude, but this was probably the right outcome.

rhhardin said...

It ought to have been slander per se, not needing any proof of damages.

Psota said...

Both "men" lowered themselves.
they completely overshadowed the incredible rescue of those kids

Howard said...

God, I hate the Man in the Arena, right J Farmer?

Wince said...

What's so wrong with being pedantic?

wild chicken said...

The guy was living in Thailand, right?

Well there you go.

richlb said...

Elon dodged a bullet on this one.

TheDopeFromHope said...

Plaintiff's attorney made a big mistake, asked for $190 million in damages. Had I been on the jury, I would have been willing to award him $5 million. But after hearing an ask of $190 million, I would have lost all sympathy for the plaintiff and sided with those who found for Musk.

Leland said...

When I say somebody is a "no malarkey" guy; I don't mean they tell the truth. I use it as slang to say that person is old.

rehajm said...

Musk is no longer a spring chicken. PedoGuy won after all...

rehajm said...

I think the SEC got to him and he's learned to shut his pie hole. I could be wrong

Bob said...

I agree with J. Farmer.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

a farthing's damages

The Review That Was So Harsh, James Whistler Sued His Critic (and Won)

The jury ruled in Whistler’s favor, agreeing that Ruskin went too far. But the decision amounted to little more than hollow validation. Whistler was awarded a farthing (a minuscule amount of money) and was forced to split court costs. Already having lived his life with an artist’s unfortunate knack for personal finance, Whistler was driven to bankruptcy by the trial. Ruskin, meanwhile, furious at the court’s decision, resigned from his post at Oxford.

sidenote: some of Althouse's pics are Whistleresque 'nocturnes'

Yancey Ward said...

Definitely the right outcome, though, like Farmer, my evil side wanted to see Musk lose.

Yancey Ward said...

DopeFromHope is correct- it was a tactical error to ask for some much in damages- a much, much lower ask might have been more persuasive. Someone asking for clearly ridiculous damages in a case like this is just asking to be mocked.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Surprised by this result. Good lawyers trump all. Musk deserved to take some hit for his statements, which were libelous in the context in which they occurred.

Tomcc said...

I'm curious as to why this was tried in Los Angeles. If you want to prosecute "hate speech" it seems to me, you do so in the UK. They have laws there, you know!

mccullough said...

Musk is a fraud. He lives on Government handouts.

Welfare Queen

Krumhorn said...

My law partner (who is also a law professor) disagree about this outcome. I think it was clearly a per se defamatory set of statements. I don’t understand the argument that it was just an insult and not intended to pass along a fact about the guy being a pedophile. And yet, Musk went further an mentioned that it was significant that the guy lived in Thailand. It’s a common leftie taunt that Rush often goes to Thailand creating the image that he goes there to diddle little boys. I don’t understand why damages were even in discussion in proving up that tort.

I would have had no trouble voting for the plaintiff.

- Krumhorn

daskol said...

Surprised about the Musk hate. Musk pushes the envelope. Thank heavens for envelope pushers like Musk. This was a nasty thing to say, but the other guy started it.

Narayanan said...

I'd have asked for. If the submarine is functioning prototype.!!!!!!!
*Elon* mounted on prow

MikeR said...

"Musk is a fraud. He lives on Government handouts." Incredible. The person who is making the most exciting technological advances in like five different fields, a fraud. He has already changed the space industry beyond imagining, the electric car industry beyond imagining. I don't know if his submarine would have worked, but he was trying out a new way of approaching how to rescue those kids. Most of us aren't trying.
Unbelievable.

Chuck said...

I agree with rhhardin.

RK said...

There was a time in a our past when most of us were happy living in trees. Then some primate named Musk said, "hey, I want to walk upright on the ground and journey through the savanna". Boy, was he hated... the dudes who were happy living in the trees said, "lookit that Musk, he just lives on handouts. Whatta douche!"

Blair said...

Musk was lucky this was a US court. Any other place on earth and he would have quite rightly been taken to the cleaners. You can't call someone pedo with no basis in fact. It's just not a flippant insult. It's not like calling someone a motherf*cker, where no reasonable person would infer actual maternal incest. You call someone pedo and imply they're in Thailand for underage sex, it is a serious charge. Not sure what sort of crack the jury was smoking to see it differently.

Ryan said...

It was lack of damages and unclean hands that doomed the case. Plaintiff told Musk to shove a mini-submarine up his ass before musk retorted that he was a pedo. And plaintiff could not show he suffered any harm.

Bob Loblaw said...

I'm curious as to why this was tried in Los Angeles. If you want to prosecute "hate speech" it seems to me, you do so in the UK. They have laws there, you know!

Why wouldn't Musk just ignore a court in the UK?