To Top

Elon Musk Scores Victory in $170-Million Defamation Lawsuit over a VERY Controversial Tweet

Another day, another lawsuit for Elon Musk, who must be used to receiving backlash because of his many careless statements aired on social media for his millions of followers to see.

Yes, the Tesla founder may be successful in the very sense of the word (his eye-watering net worth is a clear testament to that), but as we all know, great power and fortune attracts enemies and opportunists who come out of the woodwork whenever they see an opportunity to make some money.

Recently, the SpaceX founder was entangled in another snafu after making eyebrow-raising comments about a man named Vernon Unsworth, a British caver who was instrumental in the release of one soccer coach and a dozen of boys in a flooded cave in Thailand in July last year. The controversial remarks by Tesla’s CEO clearly left a bad taste in Unsworth’s mouth who later decided to sue Musk for defamation.

Thirteen people were stranded in a flooded Thai cave last year

Sending a Mini-Sub

While the race was on to retrieve the trapped team inside the cave, Elon tweeted that a mini-sub (an escape pod) was on its way to help with the operations. He then expressed his hopes that the device, which was developed by his team, would be useful once it arrived in the Asian country. However, the vehicle wasn’t even used by the retrieval team.

Even before the entire operation was over, the 48-year-old was already instructing his resue team to force local officials to leave nice words about him, despite the strong rains that were still beating the country.

When the 13 people were safely taken out of the cave, Vernon, who acted as the leader of the rescue team, was asked about the mini-submarine sent by the billionaire.

Vernon Unsworth was credited as the leader of the rescue team

Exchange of Harsh Words

The rescuer bravely referred to Elon’s effort as a PR stunt and didn’t mince his words when he lashed out at the man for his submarine. The entrepreneur didn’t take the insult lightly and took to Twitter to slam the man, calling him malicious names in the tweet. Specifically, the tech mogul called the British “pedo guy” and a “sus” (for suspect).

Elon, who had come to his senses after his scathing tirade, apologized for the tweet and deleted it. In an August 2018 tweet, however, he even wondered why the man hasn’t sued him yet despite the harsh words. Lo and behold, Vernon filed a defamation case against the tech genius the following month.

During the trial, the jury sided with Elon, maintaining that his tweets didn’t defame Vernon. The former again expressed his apologies in his testimony and explained he didn’t mean what he said before. Alex Spiro, Musk’s lawyer, defended his client by saying that the statement was nothing but a rhetoric that came from a place of anger.


Attorney L. Lin Wood initially asked for $190 million in damages

Elon’s legal team also debated that Vernon was simply seeking money and wasn’t seriously affected by their client’s remarks. The other camp’s lawyer, L. Lin Wood, expressed disappointment over the verdict and appealed to the jury, even calling the defendant a bully. The attorney further highlighted how this could be damaging for the diver because of the millions of people who saw the infamous tweet.

Vernon initially sought $190 million of damages from Elon, an amount that will barely scratch the man’s $150-billion fortune if ever he was ordered to pay up.

More in Legal Advice