That Elon Musk Defamation Case Is Getting Pretty Wild

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
that elon musk defamation case is getting pretty wild

If you’ve grudgingly followed the unseamly goings-ons in the defamation case filed against Tesla CEO Elon Musk by a British cave diver, things just took a turn. Documents filed to a California federal court this week by Vernon Unsworth’s lawyers reveal a plotline worthy of a better-than-average sitcom.

In stating their client’s side of the story, Unsworth’s legal team showcased communications from from Musk, in which the CEO expressed regret for calling the cave diver “pedo guy” on Twitter and sending accusatory emails to a Buzzfeed reporter. It also seems that the private eye Musk hired to dig up dirt on Unsworth is a convicted fraudster who’s now back in jail for parole violation.

Calling Musk a “thin-skinned billionaire” who attacked their client for criticizing Musk’s homemade submarine (an element of the Thai trapped-kids saga in which Unsworth played a key role), Unsworth’s legal team laid out evidence that their client did not marry a 12-year-old child bride — and that Musk knew it. The team hopes to collect $75,000 from Musk, plus punitive damages, clearing Unsworth’s name in the process.

The court document, posted by Buzzfeed, includes choice bits of communication between Musk and various outsiders, including an email to a PR consultant in which he calls himself a “fucking idiot” for embarking down this path.

The so-called P.I., James Howard-Higgins, allegedly contacted Musk out of the blue and offered to dig into Unsworth’s past. Unsworth’s lawyers cite evidence showing that the P.I told Musk that Unsworth’s Thai partner was at least 18 or 19 when they met, but Musk still emailed a reporter later that day to claim the British diver had married a 12-year-old. Unsworth’s team says he met his partner, Woranan “Tik” Ratrawiphukkun, in 2011 when she was 32.

Musk told the PR consultant that telling the reporter the story about the 12-year-old “was still one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done.” For his work, Musk paid Howard-Higgins $52,000, offering a $10,000 bonus if he uncovered real dirt. Musk is also alleged to have asked the P.I.’s help in leaking negative stories about Unsworth to media in Australia and the UK.

In another email, Musk claimed he could see why the homemade submarine looked like a “narcissistic PR stunt.”

Speaking of, the document claims that during the rescue of the trapped Thai soccer team, Musk and company were busying themselves in a little PR work of themselves, attempting to get a Thai regional governor to withdraw a statement that Musk’s submarine wouldn’t work.

As we’ve stated before, it’s interesting to learn the type of person who’s behind your favorite car. Musk, in the meantime, is attempting to have the suit dropped.

[Image: Tesla]

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6 of 17 comments
  • Incautious Incautious on Oct 08, 2019

    CEO of the year......NOT. just an immature child really. Can't believe any one would invest in this tool. Fleeced tsla shareholders of 2.6 Billion with the solarcity buy out which netted him a cool 560 million.

  • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on Oct 08, 2019

    Memo to Unsworth's legal team: add a few zeroes before the decimal point. Make him feel it in the only way a billionaire can.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Oct 08, 2019

      Musk's billions can't protect his fragile ego. That'll hurt more than any dollar amount.

  • VoGhost Matt, you say 'overpriced', but don't you mean 'underpriced'? It's when a manufacturer underprices, that dealers add their markup. If they were overpriced, the dealers would discount.
  • Bobbysirhan I'm surprised by the particular Porsches to make the list, and also by the Cadillac. Most of all, I'm shocked that the 2-door Mini Cooper is on here. I didn't even know they still made them, let alone that anyone was still buying them.
  • Ajla I assume the CT5 is on the list due to the Blackwing variant.It would be interesting to take the incentives that existed in October 2019 and include that in an analysis like this as well. The thing about the used market is that while you'll pay less in total dollars, in some cases the percentage increase from 2019 is even worse than with new cars. Buying a Saturn Relay for $6k isn't exactly a winning move.
  • VoGhost Reminder: dealers exist to line the pockets of millionaires who contribute to local politicians.
  • Cprescott The pandemic changed the sales game. No longer do dealerships need inventory. After two years people are accustomed to having to order what they want and then extorted on the price by the dealer for that privilege. Now used cars with 75k are selling for $5k more than I paid for my 21k, 2016 model back in January 2019. I pray my car won't get totaled and I have but 13 payments left to make on it. I may never buy another car again.