SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s lawyer argued Tuesday in a court filing that the British cave diver who became embroiled in a public spat with his client and afterwards sued for defamation can’t recover damages due to his reputation wasn’t harmed.
In court documents filed Tuesday, Musk’s new lawyer Alex Spiro of Quinn Emmanuel contested the purpose of Vernon Unsworth, the British cave diver, who filed a defamation lawsuit in September 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The suit was filed after Musk called him a “pedo guy” and made other statements insinuating he was a pedophile in a public attack on Twitter. The battle erupted last summer after the rescue of youth soccer players trapped in a cave in Thailand.
Musk denies the allegations of defamation in the most recent response. Spiro became Musk’s lawyer earlier this month.
“One has to question Mr. Unsworth’s motive in turning this into a federal case,” Spiro wrote in a response to Unsworth’s complaint. “The libel laws exist to protect those whose reputations have been harmed by false assertions of fact. In the event of Mr. Unsworth, who made himself a public figure, those assertions have to be made with constitutional malice. Mr. Musk has retracted what he said publicly. Mr. Unsworth’s claim is thus restricted to what Mr. Musk said in private conversation. Regardless, Mr. Unsworth and his reputation aren’t any worse off. ”
Musk’s lawyer asserts that Unsworth was prompted by a “desire to milk the media coverage over what he instigated to take a financial windfall from Mr. Musk, regardless of the absence of any injury. ” Musk will combat that, Spiro wrote.
U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson lately denied a motion to dismiss the case and instead scheduled a date for trial. The trial is scheduled to begin October 22. The decision means that Unsworth’s case.
Musk’s lawyers argued that announcements on the world wide web, and more specifically on forums such as Twitter, are opinion, not fact. Defamation law doesn’t apply to opinions or insults. But Wilson refused Musk’s argument, in part due to an email interaction he had with BuzzFeed reporter Ryan Mac.
The lawsuit alleges that between July 15 and August 30, Musk periodically used Twitter and emails to publish defamatory and false accusations against Unsworth, such as accusations of pedophilia and child rape.
The initial pedo guy” attack came after Unsworth gave a crucial interview to the media saying Musk’s mini sub “had zero chance of working. ” The diving pro ended an interview segment by suggesting Musk should “stick his submarine where it hurts. ”
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