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Musk wins defamation trial over 'pedo guy' tweet

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on December 7, 2019 - Duration: 02:17s

Musk wins defamation trial over 'pedo guy' tweet

A U.S. District Court jury in Los Angeles on Friday found in favor of Tesla boss Elon Musk in the defamation lawsuit brought against him by a British cave explorer who Musk had branded a "pedo guy" on Twitter.

Freddie Joyner has more.

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Musk wins defamation trial over 'pedo guy' tweet

Tesla founder Elon Musk emerged victorious Friday in the defamation lawsuit brought against him by a British cave explorer who Musk had branded a "pedo guy" on Twitter.

The plaintiff, Vernon Unsworth, reacted to the verdict in front of the courthouse.

(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) PLAINTIFF, VERNON UNSWORTH, SAYING: "Unfortunately, it has not gone the way we wished.

I respect the jury's decision, and I'd like to personally thank my lawyers who have been absolutely awesome." A federal court jury in Los Angeles consisting of five women and three men delivered the verdict on the fourth day of the trial.

Unsworth was seeking $190 million in damages against Musk, who during the trial estimated his net worth at $20 billion.

Musk had taken the witness stand in his own defense during the first two days of the trial but skipped the testimony of others.

He returned to court on Friday and sat expressionless through the closing arguments of both sides.

The plaintiff's lead attorney summed up his case against Musk by saying the, "billionaire bully" had "dropped a nuclear bomb" on Unsworth in a series of tweets suggesting he was a pedophile, and that the remark was a slur that would overshadow Unsworth's relationships and job prospects for years got come.

The defense countered that the plaintiff had failed to show evidence of any harm, and that Musk should not be held liable for what amounted to an off-the-cuff insult that stemmed from an argument and that no one took literally.

The case is believed to be the first major defamation lawsuit by a private individual to go to trial over tweets.

Unsworth gained fame when he helped coordinate the successful rescue of a boys' soccer team and its coach from a flooded Thailand cave in July of 2018.

Three days later, Unsworth gave an interview on CNN where he criticized Musk's offer of a mini-submarine to help with the rescue as a "PR stunt" and said that Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts." Two days later, Musk fired off tweets questioning Unsworth's role in the rescue and calling him "pedo guy" with no evidence.

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