WASHINGTON (AP) — Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to reverse a trial in a shareholder lawsuit out of San Francisco because he says negative local media coverage has biased potential jurors against him.
Instead, in a filing late Friday — less than two weeks before the trial was set to begin Jan. 17 — Musk’s lawyers argue it should be moved to federal court in the Western District of Texas. This district includes the state capital of Austin, which is where Musk is moving his electric car company, Tesla, in late 2021.
The shareholder lawsuit stems from Musk̵[ads1]7;s tweets in August 2018 when he said he had sufficient funding to take Tesla private at $420 per share — an announcement that caused major volatility in Tesla’s share price.
In a victory for the shareholders last spring, Judge Edward Chen ruled that Musk’s tweets were false and reckless.
If it is not possible to move the trial, Musk’s lawyers want it postponed as negative publicity regarding the billionaire’s purchase of Twitter has died down.
“For the past several months, the local media has saturated this district with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk,” attorney Alex Spiro wrote in a lawsuit. That news has personally blamed Musk for recent layoffs on Twitter, Spiro wrote, and has charged that the job cuts may have even broken laws.
The shareholders’ lawyers stressed the timing of the last-minute request, saying: “Musk’s concerns are unfounded and his proposal is meaningless.”
“The Northern District of California is the proper venue for this lawsuit and where it has been actively sought for over four years,” attorney Nicholas Porritt wrote in an email.
The filing from Musk’s lawyers also notes that Twitter has laid off about 1,000 San Francisco-area residents since he bought the company at the end of October.
“A significant portion of the jury pool … is likely to have a personal and material bias against Mr. Musk as a result of recent layoffs at one of his companies, as individual potential jurors — or their friends and relatives — may have been personally affected. , it says in the submission.
Musk has also been criticized by San Francisco’s mayor and other local officials for the job cuts, the filing said.