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Jury Assembled in Shareholder Suit Regarding Musk's 2018 Tweets

Charlie Brooks

Jan 18, 2023 11:17


A jury of nine individuals was appointed Tuesday in San Francisco to hear a complaint brought by Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Inc shareholders about CEO Elon Musk's 2018 tweets saying he had secured funding to take the electric vehicle manufacturer private.

As U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen attempted to select an impartial jury to determine if Musk's claim that funding was "secured" constituted fraud and cost investors "billions" of dollars, none of the jurors had strong feelings about the billionaire.

Chen focused on a few panelists who labeled Musk in questionnaires as "crazy" and "arrogant."

Regarding Musk's October takeover of Twitter as CEO, a jury observed, "I think he's a little off his rocker on a personal level."

This potential juror and others said that they could judge the case impartially if chosen, but neither he nor another potential juror who described Musk as a "smart, successful pioneer" were selected for the jury.

Musk's reputation for eccentric conduct has developed since he became Tesla's CEO, as evidenced by his ambition to conquer Mars and the naming of one of his children after a symbol.

Investors filed a lawsuit in August 2018, shortly after Musk tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share. "Financing has been acquired," he announced.

In a further tweet on the same day, he wrote, "Investor support is confirmed," and added, "the only reason this is not assured is because shareholder approval is contingent."

Chen determined that these claims were incorrect and irresponsible. The jury will assess whether Musk's remarks were material to investors, if he acted knowingly, and whether and how much damages will be awarded.

The accused, who include seven current and former Tesla directors, have denied any wrongdoing.

They have claimed in court documents that they will argue that Musk had adequate grounds to expect the transaction's funds were secured.

According to court documents, the billionaire met Yasir Al-Rumayyan, managing director of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, numerous times. According to reports, Al-Rumayyan urged Musk to take Tesla private and offered capital of up to $60 billion.

Musk, Oracle Corp (NYSE:ORCL) co-founder Larry Ellison, and James Murdoch, son of Fox Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch, may testify in the lawsuit, according to court documents.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Wednesday with opening statements.