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Tesla Inc's CEO Elon Musk is known for his brash statements on Twitter. When he's not in the mood, Mr. Musk often goes out of his way to address supporters and anyone who he might find worth his attention. One such outburst landed the executive in an unfavorable spotlight after he abused a British diver and a BuzzFeed reporter in 2018. Tesla's top executive called British diver Vernon Unsworth a pedophile and insinuated since the diver had not sued him for months following the comments, Mr. Unsworth was guilty as charged. Mr. Unsworth, for his part, proceeded to sue Mr. Musk last year, and now, a US District Court will decide the matter.
US District Court Will Commence Jury Trial In Libel & Slander Lawsuit Filed Against Tesla CEO Elon Musk By British Diver Vernon Unsworth
In his suit, Mr. Unsworth's representatives state that all direct and indirect claims made by Tesla's CEO against their client are false. "Musk’s influence and wealth cannot convert his lies into truth or protect him from accountability for his wrongdoing in a court of law," believes attorney L. Lin Wood.
In his tweets last year, the Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Space X head stated that Mr. Unsworth is a "pedo guy'' after the diver called his efforts to help rescue children stuck in Thailand a "PR stunt" and stated that Mr. Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts." The spelunker also critiqued Mr. Musk's intelligence by stating that he was unaware of what a cave passage looks like.
The Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) founder's subsequent escalation turned heads and he challenged Mr. Unsworth to sue him in court. Now, following the suit's filing last year, the United States District Court in Los Angeles will commence hearing it on December 3rd after District Judge Stephen Wilson dismissed Mr. Musk's request to throw the case out.
The CEO's legal team also faced setbacks in the suit after judge Wilson did not classify Mr. Unsworth as a public figure, and Mr. Musk's statements as insults instead of allegations. The diver is seeking up to $75,000 in damages, and a commitment from Mr. Musk to avoid making similar claims in the future.
Today's news comes at a crucial point for Tesla's stock. The company's shares have finally started to demonstrate an upward momentum following impressive earnings results in October when it beat Wall Street's expectations. Tesla's also got ambitious manufacturing plans revolving around a fully constructed Gigafactory 3 in China and a fourth factory expected to start producing cars in Germany by 2022.
S&P Global has also upgraded the company's debt outlook, and with the expected cost savings that Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) might achieve through the Gigafactory 3 in China, the company's bottom line should improve. Mr. Musk's board has advised the CEO to focus on building cars and rockets, and not engage with the general public on Twitter.
However, Mr. Musk, exhibiting a disregard for conventions has continued to use the social platform in unorthodox ways. The executive has also come under the scrutiny of the Securities and Exchange Commission following his decision to announce a plan to take Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) private on Twitter. Mr. Musk also announced Tesla's decision to build the Gigafactory 4 in Germany on the same medium.
Tesla is trading at $353.40 at the time of writing, down by 1.69% from yesterday's closing. Given Mr. Musk's 'brand image', investors are sensitive to news relating to the executive. The stock is 6.44% shy of its previous 52-week high, and it's trading at a 61.4x.
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