Musk attorneys transfer to dismiss cave explorer lawsuit over “pedo guy” tweets

Enlarge / Elon Musk speaks in Austin, Texas, on March 10, 2018.

On Wednesday, attorneys representing Elon Musk requested a federal decide to dismiss a defamation lawsuit introduced by a British cave explorer whom Musk known as a “pedo guy” on Twitter. The movement to dismiss, filed in US District Court in California’s Central District, argues that Twitter is just a “website famous for invective and hyperbole,” and nobody who learn Musk’s claims took them severely.

Tangled tweets

The dispute started in July, when Musk started tweeting about utilizing a workforce of SpaceX engineers to discover a solution to rescue 12 boys who have been trapped in a collapse Thailand as monsoon waters flooded the cave. The workforce’s answer was to develop a child-sized submarine that would preserve the kids protected as skilled divers guided it via the lengthy and harmful passage out of the cave.

But a number of days later, a workforce of skilled divers and cave explorers have been in a position to rescue the entire youngsters with out Musk’s assist. A Thai official later stated that Musk’s answer “was not practical for this mission.”

Vernon Unsworth, a British cave explorer who performed a key position within the operation to extract the boys from the cave, subsequently stated in a CNN interview that Musk’s submarine was too inflexible to take the slim corners within the cave and had “absolutely no chance of working.” Unsworth added that Musk might “stick his submarine where it hurts.”

Musk responded by calling Unsworth a “pedo guy” on Twitter. In response to questioning tweets, the CEO did not stroll again his declare and as an alternative wrote: “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.” Musk ultimately deleted his tweets, however days later he responded to a Buzzfeed News electronic mail reiterating his claims and together with a number of new and equally unsubstantiated claims about Unsworth. Musk wrote that his electronic mail was “off the record,” however Buzzfeed by no means agreed to such phrases and revealed the e-mail anyway.

Musk had advised Buzzfeed, “I fucking hope he sues me,” which Unsworth did in August.

Serious or not?

Now Musk’s attorneys are hoping to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that most people studying Musk’s tweets “knew from the outset” that the insulting remarks “were not intended to be statements of fact.”

“While many [Buzzfeed] readers criticized Musk for lodging what they understood to be groundless accusations (and criticized Unsworth for disparaging Musk and his team’s efforts to help), not a single reader seemed to construe Musk’s statements literally,” the movement claims.

Musk’s attorneys argue that his tweets are protected beneath the First Amendment. They additionally repeatedly use the character of Twitter for example of why Musk’s tweets shouldn’t be taken severely, calling the location “a turbulent internet forum” and arguing that “reasonable readers discount internet speech” in accordance with the “low barrier to speaking online.”

“The motion,” Musk’s attorneys wrote on Wednesday, “boils down to a single question: Accepting Unsworth’s well-pleaded allegations as true, would a reasonable reader believe that Musk’s statements were supported by objective facts or instead were ‘nonactionable opinion’?”

In an electronic mail to Ars on Thursday, Unsworth’s lead counsel, L. Lin Wood, rejected Musk’s attorneys’ characterization of the scenario. Wood cited the 1990 US Supreme Court determination in Milkovich v. Lorain Journal, by which the courtroom determined that not every thing that is perhaps labeled as opinion is exempt from libel legal guidelines.

“Furthermore, I entirely reject Mr. Musk’s frivolous contention that all statements published on Twitter or other social media are protected speech,” Wood wrote. “I am confident the trial court will likewise reject this fanciful position which if adopted, would effectively prevent an individual from seeking redress for any and all false and defamatory attacks on reputation published on the Internet.”

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