Concluding a highly anticipated trial, Billionaire founder of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk has emerged victorious in a lawsuit brought on by British caver Vernon Unsworth.
In July 2018, Unsworth was involved in a widely-publicised cave rescue in Thailand when a Thai soccer team and their coach were trapped due to monsoon floods. Unsworth had been one of the many on the ground lending expertise, while Elon Musk had suggested building a “minisub” as a contingency to rescue the children.
Unsworth told CNN that Musk’s idea was a “PR stunt”, and that he should “stick his sub where it hurts.” Musk, in true Twitter fashion, responded that Unsworth was “sus” (suspicious) before tweeting the now-famous “sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”
Despite deleting the tweets and apologising for them, Musk was still brought in as part of a defamation suit by Unsworth, seeking U$5 million in actual damages, US$35 million in assumed damages and US$150 in punitive damages.
The eight-strong jury at the trial found that Musk was not liable for any damages. Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro provided that the exchange of tweets clearly indicated their nature as insults, along with the fact that Unsworth’s name was not mentioned in the tweets. “In arguments, you insult people,” Spiro concluded.
Unsworth’s attorney, L. Lin Wood claimed that Musk’s tweets had “dropped a bomb” on Unsworth, justifying the phenomenal damages he had sought initially.