Lawyers for Are you here and Elon Musk are asking a federal judge in San Francisco to move or postpone an upcoming trial from Northern California to West Texas, saying they won’t be able to find impartial jurors and citing “local negativity” towards Musk.
Musk and other current and former members of Tesla’s board of directors will face a jury in a shareholder class action lawsuit alleging that the CEO manipulated Tesla stock in 2018 when he tweeted that he plans to take his electric vehicle company private at a price of $420 dollars per share and that he has “secured funding” to do so.
Trading in Tesla stock first stalled, then the stock was very volatile in the weeks following the tweets.
Musk lived in California that year, while Tesla was headquartered in Palo Alto. The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX moved to Texas in 2020, and his electric vehicle company moved its headquarters to Austin in 2021.
In 2022, Senior Northern California District Judge Edward M. Chen, who is overseeing the trial, ruled that Musk’s 2018 statements were false and that he knowingly posted them on Twitter.
The upcoming trial and jury will decide whether Musk’s now-infamous tweets had shareholder value, whether and how they affected Tesla’s share price, and whether the company or its directors should be held liable and pay damages.
In the motion to move the venue, lawyers representing Tesla and Musk allege that the CEO received significant and negative publicity in California after taking over San Francisco-based Twitter in October 2022.
Musk named himself CEO of Twitter and laid off thousands of employees in a series of chaotic layoffs and layoffs since the deal was struck.
During a recent public appearance in San Francisco, Musk was booed after comedian Dave Chappelle invited him on stage.
Quinn partner Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan Alex Spiro, who represented Musk in several court cases, argued in this latest document:
“A significant portion of this county’s jurors are likely to have a personal and financial bias against Mr. Musk following recent layoffs at one of his businesses because individual potential jurors — or their friends and parents — may have been personally biased. was exacerbated, expanded and amplified by negative and inflammatory local advertising associated with the events.
Spiro added in a statement that “the negativity towards Mr. Musk was not intended for the press.” He said there were regular protests and pickets outside Musk’s offices in San Francisco, adding that some were “approved and encouraged by local political figures.”
Musk and his lawyers have previously argued that his statements about a possible Tesla privatization deal in 2018 did not violate the law.
Tesla’s CEO has said on multiple occasions that he has entered into a handshake with investors from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund to take Tesla private at $420 per share. Text messages unearthed in another lawsuit in 2022 suggested that Saudi PIF investors had not fully agreed to fund the Tesla deal.
Court documents this month in a class action securities lawsuit show that Musk’s lawyers subpoenaed four people who help run the Saudi Arabian Government Investment Fund to testify in the lawsuit, including Nayef Al-Mogren, Saad Al-Jarboah, Turki Alnoveis and Yasser Al-Rumayan.
Read in Re: Tesla Inc Securities Litigation. (case 3:18-cv-04865-EMC) filing here: