A motion to dismiss the case was filed Wednesday to the U.S. District Court in California’s Central District where Vernon Unsworth, a UK citizen, filed a complaint in September alleging Musk used defamatory language when Musk tweeted Unsworth was a “pedo guy,” then later sent an email to a BuzzFeed reporter accusing the diver of being involved in child sex trafficking. The tweets have since been deleted and Musk publicly apologized — on, you guessed it, Twitter.
Unsworth was part of a mission to rescue a Thai soccer team trapped in flooded caves in June and into July. Musk offered his companies’ engineering and systems expertise to build a rescue submarine, which Unsworth criticized.
Now Musk would like to put this all behind him, or as the motion says “end the war of words,” but in a statement to CNBC, Unsworth’s lawyer plans to pursue the case. Musk’s main defense is that his words were “non-actionable opinions” protected by the First Amendment even if they were offensive “imaginative attacks.”
In the motion, Musk calls Unsworth’s comments “indefensible and baseless” and that they prompted Musk to defend himself and his companies, SpaceX, Tesla, and the Boring Company.
Musk then “took to Twitter — a social networking website infamous for invective and hyperbole — to respond.” Later in the motion, Musk characterizes the social media site as the “rough-and-tumble Twitter platform.”
Since this was Twitter and not “a Boston Globe Spotlight exposé, a university press conference, or criminal complaint” the case against Musk and his “gratuitous barb” should be dismissed, his legal team argues.
Unsworth is seeking $75,000 in damages and a court order to stop Musk from making more allegations. Sounds familiar.