Elon Musk wins in 'pedo guy' defamation trial
"My faith in humanity is restored," Musk said as he was leaving the
courtroom on Friday after the verdict was announced.
Unsworth sued Musk
in September 2018 for defamation, seeking punitive
and compensatory damages. Unsworth had helped rescue
12 boys and their soccer coach
from a flooded Thai cave last year. Musk
had referred to Unsworth as "pedo guy" in a tweet sent shortly after the
rescue. This week, Unsworth
that the tweet made him feel "humiliated, ashamed, dirty."
During closing arguments on Friday, Unsworth's attorney L. Lin Wood said the
tweet was "a nuclear bomb."
"There are people and relationships and situations that will be harmed for
decades because of the fallout," Wood said.
At the heart of the case was whether Musk's "pedo guy" tweet was a
statement of fact. According to Musk's legal team, it was an insult that
was provoked by Unsworth, who called Musk's efforts to help with the
rescue a "PR stunt."
"We're having a federal case about him using the wrong insult," said
defense lawyer Alex Spiro.
Musk involved himself in the Thai cave rescue by instructing his
employees to build a mini submarine to help save the boys. Unsworth said
in a CNN
that Musk should "stick his submarine where it hurts."
After seeing the interview, Musk fired off his "pedo guy" tweet on July
15, 2018. In his opening statement, Spiro said Musk's tweet "was a
joking, deleted, apologized for, responsive tweet. A JDART."
On Friday, Spiro said Musk was genuine in his efforts. "No one can bring
together people like he can to do the impossible," Spiro said.
Wood told the jury he supported $5 million in actual damages, $35
million in assumed damages and $150 million in punitive damages.
Unsworth testified earlier in the week that his annual income is about
25,000 pounds ($33,000 USD) while Musk testified his worth is about $20
Musk's lawyers accused Unsworth of seeking fame and money. In response
to the numbers Wood presented, Spiro said, "It all makes sense now."
"They should stop monetizing the kids in the cave. They should stop
monetizing with a lawsuit," Spiro said.
Unsworth said the verdict is "not what I expected," but added that he
respects the jury's decision.
"It is a pity that a bullying billionaire has been able to cast such a
long shadow," Unsworth's attorney Mark Stephens said. "I hope no one
else has to go through and go toe to toe with Mr. Musk again. He
obviously has an enormous amount of resources."
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
No sane person believes that this verdict was a reasonable decision.
How this jury came to this particular decision can only be described as
It raises serious questions about how why where and when these particular
jurors got to be chosen.
Must engaged in the worst possible "insult" one could make, yes it was an
insult but it was
extraordinarily defamatory and Musk, got away with it.
Lets hope every possible Tesla customer gets as angry as I did when I read