Washington – Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to shift a shareholder trial out of San Francisco because he says negative media coverage has biased potential jurors against him.
Instead, in a filing late Friday — less than two weeks before the trial was scheduled to begin on January 17 — Musk’s lawyers argued that the trial should be moved to federal court in the Western District of Texas. That region includes the state capital of Austin, where Musk relocated his electric car company, Tesla, in late 2021.
If the move isn’t possible, Musk’s attorneys want to delay the trial until negative publicity has been made about Musk’s purchase Twitter has faded.
“For the past several months, the local media has saturated this area with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk,” attorney Alex Spiro wrote in the lawsuit. Those elements blamed Musk personally for Twitter’s recent layoffs, Spiro wrote, and charged that the job cuts may have broken laws.
The shareholder lawsuit stems from Musk’s tweets in August 2018 when he said he had enough funding to acquire Tesla at $420 a share, an announcement that caused wild swings in Tesla’s stock price.
Lawyers for the shareholders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a shareholder victory last spring, Judge Edward Chen ruled Musk’s tweets false and reckless.
His lawyer’s report also notes that Twitter has laid off about 1,000 San Francisco-area residents since it bought the company in late October.
“A significant portion of the jury cohort … is likely to hold a personal and material prejudice against Mr. Musk as a result of recent layoffs at one of his companies as individual potential jurors — or their friends and relatives — may have been personally affected,” the filing said.
The report said Musk was criticized by the San Francisco mayor and other local officials for the job cuts.
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