Elon Musk has asked a federal judge to move his upcoming Tesla shareholder trial out of San Francisco. Per the Associated Press, Alex Spiro, the billionaire’s personal lawyer, filed the request late Friday, less than two weeks before the trial is scheduled to kick off on January 17th. Musk’s legal team argues “a substantial portion” of the potential jury pool in San Francisco is likely to hold a bias against Musk due to recent media coverage criticizing his actions at Twitter and the seemingly never-ending layoffs at the company. Musk has asked to move the trial to Texas, which has been home to Tesla headquarters since late 2021.
The class action lawsuit involves “false and misleading” statements Musk made in 2018 when he said he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share. Musk’s now-infamous “funding secured” tweet landed the billionaire in trouble with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, eventually leading to a $40 million settlement with the agency. The shareholders involved in the suit won an early victory last spring when federal judge Edward Chen concluded that Musk had “recklessly made the statements with knowledge as to their falsity.” The upcoming trial will determine whether Musk’s tweet affected the automaker’s stock price and if he should be held accountable for potential damages.
“Musk’s concerns are unfounded and his motion is meritless,” Nicholas Porritt, one of the lawyers representing Tesla shareholders, told the Associated Press. “The Northern District of California is the proper venue for this lawsuit and where it has been actively litigated for over four years.” On Saturday, Judge Chen told the two sides he would hear Musk’s request on January 13th.