Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk asked a federal judge to move a shareholder lawsuit from the Northern District of California Court in San Francisco to Texas out of concerns about potential juror bias.
“For the last several months, the local media have saturated this district with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk,” his attorney, Alex Spiro, wrote in a filing submitted late Friday, The Associated Press reported.
His lawyers asked for the trial to be moved to the Western District of Texas Federal Court, which encompasses Austin, where Musk moved Tesla to in late 2021.
The trial is set to begin Jan. 17 after shareholders sued over Musk’s August 2018 tweets claiming that he could take Tesla private at $420 a share. The announcement caused volatility in the company’s share price, and Judge Edward Chen ruled last spring that Musk’s tweets were reckless and false.
If the trial cannot be moved, Musk’s attorneys requested for it to be postponed until negative coverage about his Twitter purchase has subsided.
“A substantial portion of the jury pool … is likely to hold a personal and material bias against Mr. Musk as a result of recent layoffs at one of his companies as individual prospective jurors — or their friends and relatives — may have been personally impacted,” the filing stated, referring to how about 1,000 San Francisco-area residents have been laid off since he took over the social media platform in October.
“Musk’s concerns are unfounded and his motion is meritless,” lawyers for the shareholders said.
“The Northern District of California is the proper venue for this lawsuit and where it has been actively litigated for over four years,” shareholder attorney Nicholas Porritt wrote.