Hardscrabble Car Salesman Wins Defamation Trial

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
hardscrabble car salesman wins defamation trial

Sometimes the little guy wins.

Elon Musk, founder of a rocket ship company and CEO of a rising automobile company/cult, left a federal courtroom on Friday more emboldened than ever to say whatever he wants. A unanimous verdict handed down by the jury declared that calling an unknown British diver “pedo guy” on Twitter did not constitute defamation, thus allowing Musk, who has 30 million followers on the social media platform, to sidestep $190 million in damages.

“My faith in humanity is restored,” said Musk, who also called diver Vernon Unsworth a “child rapist” with no corroborating evidence in an email to a Buzzfeed reporter, upon leaving the courthouse.

Musk’s defence team, headed up by attorney Alex Spiro, argued successfully that their client was merely lashing out in anger at a man who helped orchestrate the successful rescue of a trapped children’s soccer team from a flooded Thai cave. Calling someone you’ve never met “pedo guy” on a public stage was just a meaningless slur, they claimed, rather than an accusation.

The jury agreed that Musk, who uttered the slur after Unsworth told him to stick his home-built submarine — deemed wholly insufficient for the task of rescuing the kids — up his own ass, did not deserve to face punishment for his actions.

Unsworth’s attorney, L. Lin Wood, called Musk a “billionaire bully” in his closing statement, claiming the tech guru “dropped a nuclear bomb” on his client. During this week’s legal process, Musk apologised to Unsworth and stated that he did not believe the man, whom he hired a grifter ex-con to dig up dirt on, was a pedophile.

In return, Spiro claimed Unsworth was not damaged by the accusations, adding, “You wanna award damages? How about one dollar?”

“This verdict puts everyone’s reputation at risk,” Wood later told reporters.

“I accept the jury’s verdict, take it on the chin and get on with my life,” Unsworth commented after court adjourned. “It’s not the verdict we wanted. But it’s the end of the road and we now close this chapter.”

It’s quite possible the jury realized this trial-by-Twitter would indeed set a precedent, preferring, in the end, to ensure that accusations of defamation on social media must require a greater degree of scrutiny.

Confident in their hero’s unsullied purity, Musk’s [s]disciples[/s] followers then spent the rest of their Friday harassing Ford spokesman Mike Levine on Twitter.

[Sources: CNBC, Reuters] [Image: Tesla]

Join the conversation
2 of 50 comments
  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Dec 09, 2019

    “My faith in humanity is restored,” said Musk, who also called diver Vernon Unsworth a “child rapist” with no corroborating evidence in an email to a Buzzfeed reporter, upon leaving the courthouse. Musk will take care of himself at some point, unless one of his cars does.

  • BeerMe45 BeerMe45 on Dec 15, 2019

    Your new "Read all Comments" button will stop me from idly scrolling down. Now I have to make a choice. I'm trying to be entertained, and you are making me work. So far, I've clicked the button 50% of the time. So if you are going for more metrics on comments you can take heart in knowing people USED to read the comments more before the button appeared. FYI the End of Comments link is now broken. Clicking it before all the comments are loaded makes the browser reset to top of page.

  • MaintenanceCosts What a bizarre idea. Keep it legible. There's absolutely nothing wrong with A4E, Q5E, etc. At this point the Q5, Q7, and A4 in particular are such well-known brands that it's just dumb to monkey with them.
  • Ajla After the success this sort of thing brought Infiniti and Cadillac I can see why Audi is joining in.
  • SCE to AUX A plug-in hybrid requires two fuels to realize the benefit of having that design. This is where the Volt fell down.It could be either:[list][*]A very short-range EV[/*][*]A long-range ICE with mediocre fuel economy[/*][*]An excellent mid-range vehicle that required both a plug and gasoline.[/*][/list]If you wanted a short-range EV you got a Leaf (like I did). If you wanted a long-range car with good fuel economy, you got a Civic/Elantra/Cruze/Corolla. In my case, we also had an Optima Hybrid.I'd personally rather have a single-fuel vehicle - either gas/hybrid or electric - rather than combine the complexity and cost of both into one vehicle.
  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.