A jury has decided Elon Musk didn’t deceive investors with tweets in 2018.
The verdict by the nine jurors was reached after less that two hours of deliberation following a three-week trial.
The trial pitted Tesla investors represented in a class-action lawsuit against Musk, who is CEO of both the electric automaker and the Twitter service he bought for for $44 billion a few months ago.
In 2018, Musk tweeted that he had the financing to take Tesla private even though it turned out he hadn’t gotten an iron-clad commitment for an aborted deal that would have cost $20 billion to $70 billion to pull off.
It’s a major vindication for Musk, whose integrity was at stake as well part of a fortune that has established him as one of the world’s richest people. He could have been saddled with a bill for billions of dollars in damages had the jury found him liable for the 2018 tweets that had already been deemed falsehoods by the judge presiding over the trial.
After three hours of arguments wrapped up Friday, a nine-person jury began its deliberations in the civil case centered on two tweets Musk posted Aug. 7, 2018 about a Tesla buyout that never happened.
The first tweet, posted just before he boarded his private jet, Musk declared he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private. A few hours later, Musk sent another tweet indicating that the deal was imminent.
The tweets caused Twitter’s stock to surge during a 10-day period covered by the lawsuit before falling back after Musk abandoned a deal in which he never had a firm financing commitment, based on evidence presented during the three-week trial.
During roughly eight hours on the stand earlier in the trial, Musk insisted he believed he had lined up the funds from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to take Tesla private after eight years as a publicly held company. He defended his initial August 2018 tweet as well-intentioned and aimed at ensuring all Tesla investors knew the automaker might be on its way to ending its run as a publicly held company.
“I had no ill motive,” Musk testified. “My intent was to do the right thing for all shareholders.”
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