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Elon Musk not liable in ‘pedo guy’ trial



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Elon Musk won. 

The jury found that the Tesla founder was not liable for damages in a lawsuit brought against him by 

 for defaming British cave diver Vernon Unsworth. The jury returned its verdict Friday after a four-day trial in which Musk testified for nearly six hours.

Unsworth sued Musk in September 2018 for defamation after the Tesla CEO referred to Unsworth as a “pedo guy” on Twitter.

Unsworth lives in Thailand, and was an instrumental member of the team that rescued a Thai boys’ soccer team from being stranded in a flooded cave in July 2018. Musk and a team of engineers created a mini submarine to assist with the efforts, which was ultimately not used. Unsworth criticized Musk’s efforts to help as ineffectual and a “PR stunt” in a CNN interview. This caused Musk to lash out on Twitter with the “pedo guy” tweet.

In court documents, Unsworth asked for a minimum of $75,000, but his attorney, Lin Wood, suggested a total of $190 million in closing arguments on Friday. 

The crux of the lawsuit is whether “pedo guy” was a literal accusation of being a pedophile, or if it was a generic insult. Under defamation law, “insults” are terms that a reasonable person wouldn’t assume as literally true, so don’t count as defamation. Musk’s attorneys argued that “pedo guy” just meant a “creepy old man.” Unsworth’s attorneys said that, thanks to Musk’s stature and Twitter reach, the world now associates Unsworth with pedophilia.

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