In our last post, we wrote about some important developments in the defamation case involving Tesla founder Elon Musk, who referred to British cave diver Vernon Unsworth as a “pedo guy” on Twitter, among other things. To recap: a District Court judge rejected Musk’s request to throw out the case. Musk had argued that his comments were not intended as factual statements. He also asserted that Unsworth was a public figure and thus should be subjected to a more rigorous standard for defamation. The judge threw out both appeals, instead ruling that Unsworth was not a public figure, a decision that put Musk’s defense team in a more difficult position.
The Jury’s Verdict
Ultimately, this prelude does not appear to have had a significant impact, as the jury found that Musk did not defame Unsworth after less than an hour. According to the foreman, the jurors felt that Unsworth’s legal team had focused too heavily on the emotional aspects of the case and should have stuck more closely to the evidence.
Setting a Precedent for Digital Defamation
The trial was watched closely by experts across the United States, and not just because it involved the hero of one of 2018’s biggest stories suing one of tech’s most famous billionaires. More than just providing an interesting spectacle, the case is one of the first high-profile tests of how U.S. defamation laws will be applied to the world of social media, where potentially defamatory comments always seem to be just clicks away. We can expect to see the outcome of this case referenced many times in the years to come.
Have You Been Defamed?
Defamation is a serious act that can cause a tremendous amount of suffering for those affected. False statements published against you with the intent to damage your reputation can have a lasting impact on personal and professional relationships. If you’ve been the victim of defamation, an experienced defamation attorney like Brian A. Newman can help you recover damages and move forward with your life. Call the Law Offices of Brian A. Newman today at (424) 275-4014 to schedule a complimentary consultation for your case.