Elon Musk lawyers aim to move trial from California to Texas, citing ‘local negativity’

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at an event in Hawthorne, California on April 30, 2015.

Patrick T Fallon | Reuters

Lawyers for Tesla and Elon Musk are asking a San Francisco federal judge to move or delay an upcoming trial from Northern California to West Texas, saying they won’t be able to find impartial jurors and citing “local negativity” toward Musk .

Musk and other current and former Tesla board members are about to appear before a jury in a shareholder class action alleging that the CEO manipulated Tesla’s stock in 2018 when he tweeted that he was considering taking his electric vehicle company private at $420 per share, and had received “financing” to do so.

Tesla stock trading initially stalled, then shares were highly volatile for weeks following the tweets.

That year, Musk lived in California and Tesla was headquartered in Palo Alto. The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX moved to Texas in 2020 and his electric vehicle company moved to Austin in 2021.

In 2022, Northern California senior district judge Edward M. Chen who oversees the trial ruled that Musk’s 2018 statements were false and that he knowingly tweeted them.

The upcoming trial and jury will decide whether Musk’s now-infamous tweets were important to shareholders, whether and how they affected Tesla’s stock price, and whether the company or its directors should be held liable and pay damages.

In a motion to move the venue, attorneys representing Tesla and Musk allege that the CEO received extensive and negative publicity in California after acquiring a San Francisco-based social media company, Twitter, in October 2022.

Musk named himself CEO of Twitter and has laid off thousands of employees in a series of chaotic layoffs and layoffs since the deal was closed.

At a recent public performance in San Francisco, Musk was booed after comedian Dave Chappelle invited him on stage.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner Alex Spiro, who has represented Musk in several lawsuits, argued in this latest filing:

“A substantial portion of the jury in this district is likely to have a personal and material bias against Mr. Musk due to recent firings at one of his companies, as individual prospective jurors – or their friends and relatives – may have been personal.” affected. The existing baseline bias has been exacerbated, expanded and reinforced by the negative and inflammatory local publicity surrounding the events.”

Spiro added in the filing that the “negativity towards Mr Musk was not isolated to the press”. He said there are regular protests and protests in front of Musk’s San Francisco offices, adding that some are “endorsed and encouraged by local political figures.”

Musk and his lawyers have previously argued that his statements about a possible private deal for Tesla in 2018 did not violate the law.

Tesla’s CEO has repeatedly claimed that he struck a handshake deal with Saudi Arabian public investment fund investors to take Tesla private at $420 per share. Text messages revealed in another trial in 2022 suggested that Saudi PIF investors had not fully agreed to fund a Tesla deal.

Court filings this month in the securities class action show Musk’s lawyers subpoenaed four people who help run the Saudi Public Investment Fund to testify in this trial, including Naif Al Mogren, Saad Al Jarboa, Turqi Alnowaise and Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

Read the submission of In Re: Tesla Inc. Securities Litigation (Case 3:18-cv-04865-EMC) here:





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