While Elon Musk spent his evening on Twitter (again) complaining about short sellers...
Bravo, right thing to do! Short selling should be illegal.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 3, 2019
...we are reminded that it was his use of Twitter when talking about British cave diving hero Vern Unsworth that will be leading Musk into the courtroom this morning, as he heads to trial for allegedly defaming Unsworth when he referred to him as "pedo guy".
Unsworth helped play a key role in saving 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand in July 2018.
Musk had proposed his own solution for the rescue, embarking on a boastful public quest to construct a device that could help rescue the trapped children. But, ultimately, the rescue was done by actual professionals and without the help of Musk.
In a post-rescue interview with CNN, Unsworth laughed off Musk's proposed solution and told the billionaire he could "stick it where it hurts", disregarding Musk's effort as a "PR stunt".
Musk, like a child who had just been bested on an elementary school playground, fired back by calling Unsworth names and insisting that he was a pedophile both on Twitter, and in communications with a reporter at BuzzFeed.
Unsworth obviously contends that Musk's statements are false and that he should pay punitive and other damages for harming his reputation.
The trial will last about 5 days and Musk is scheduled to be one of the first, if not the first, witness to testify.
Several weeks ago, the judge presiding over the cast tossed the idea of Musk having a free speech defense, ruling that the statements did not have any basis in any public controversy involving Unsworth. Unsworth's lawyer, L. Lin Wood said after the hearing that "the burden of proof for negligence is lower than that for actual malice".
This means that Unsworth will only have to convince the jury by a preponderance of the evidence, rather than clear and convincing evidence, making it easier for the panel to find Musk liable for defamation, Wood said.
Punitive damages could come as a result of the jury finding that Musk acted with malice, according to Wood.
Recall, back in October, we noted that Musk called himself a "fucking idiot" of his choice of words about Unsworth when he emailed a reporter unverified information about the cave diver.
We also documented when Unsworth first filed suit in late 2018.