The Tesla shareholders who are suing Musk for fraud aren’t happy about his comments. In a court filing on Friday they asked the judge in their case to muzzle the tweet-happy CEO.
“I was forced [to lie] to save Tesla’s life and that’s the only reason,” Musk said at the TED conference in Vancouver Thursday. He went on to compare the experience to having someone point a gun to his child’s head.
In the court filing Friday, the Tesla investors who are suing Musk asserted that the judge in the case had agreed with their contention that Musk knowingly made false statements when he tweeted about having funding secured for such a transaction.
The filing refers to an April 1 order by US District Judge Edward M. Chen that does not appear on the docket.
Friday’s filing by investors is a motion for a temporary restraining order to prohibit Musk from speaking publicly about the case until after the trial. Lawyers claim that Musk’s public comments can influence potential jurors as he makes an “unsubtle attempt to absolve himself in the court of public opinion.”
“Despite the findings by this Court, the SEC, and his own written consent, Musk has engaged in a high-profile public campaign to present a contradictory and false narrative,” according to the filing.
The motion for the restraining order comes after Musk said publicly at a TED Conference that he did not lie in his 2018 tweet.
At the TED Conference in Vancouver, Musk called the SEC “bastards” with regard to the security fraud settlement he reached with the agency related to the same August 7, 2018 tweet. He doubled down to say that he did have funding secured, and that he only agreed to the settlement because if he hadn’t, banks would have stopped providing capital and bankrupt Tesla.
A lawyer for the investors, Adam Apton, told CNN he anticipates the judge’s order will be published soon.
“We look forward to proving the rest of our case at trial and recovering damages on behalf of the class,” Apton said in a statement to CNN Business.
A lawyer for Musk insisted that the Tesla CEO could have taken the company private.
“Nothing will ever change the truth, which is that Elon Musk was considering taking Tesla private and could have,” Alex Spiro said in a statement to CNN Business. “All that’s left some half decade later is random plaintiffs lawyers trying to make a buck and others trying to block that truth from coming to light, all to the detriment of free speech.”
— CNN Business’ Chris Isidore contributed to this report.
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