Lawyers for Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly pressured British cave rescuer Vern Unsworth for criticizing Musk during a trial on claims of defamation after Musk smeared Unsworth as “Pedo Guy.”
The Verge reports that the third day of the defamation trial involving Tesla CEO Elon Musk and British cave rescuer Vern Unsworth has come to a close, and that the three-man, five-woman U.S. District Court jury is expected to begin deliberating on the case soon.
The jurors will be asked to decide by unanimous vote if Musk defamed Vern Unsworth with three of his tweets from July 15, 2019 in which he called Unsworth a “pedo guy.” During a cross-examination from one of Musk’s lawyers, the British cave rescuer was asked if he would apologize for his comments about Musk and his efforts during the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand in July 2018.
Unsworth referred to Musk’s plans to use a miniature submarine to save the boys as a “PR stunt” and told Musk he could “stick his submarine where it hurts.” Unsworth told Musk’s lawyers during the trial: “I’m not sure how I need to apologize. It was my opinion at the time and I stand by that opinion.”
Unsworth previously stated during his testimony, with his voice cracking with emotion, that Musk’s comments left him feeling “humiliated, ashamed, dirtied.” Unsworth said: “Effectively, from day one, I was given a life sentence without parole. It hurts to talk about it.” Unsworth added: “I was obviously aware of the media coverage,” but stated that he wasn’t sure how many times it was repeated.
Unsworth is seeking unspecified damages from Musk, who stated in court that his net worth is somewhere around $20 billion. The Verge reports that Jurors were excused 15 minutes early but Judge Wilson requested that the lawyers in the case stay back to discuss closing statements and jury instructions. One of Musk’s lawyers, Melody Thompson, allegedly attempted to make an end-run around the jury and have the case decided as a matter of law, which Judge Wilson declined.