Elon Musk is off the hook for his 2018 tweets claiming he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private for $420 a share. A jury found that Musk was not liable for Tesla investors’ losses, following a weeks-long trial in San Francisco.
The verdict is a major victory for Musk, who could have been liable for billions of dollars in damages. Musk had testified in federal court that just because he tweets something, it "does not mean people believe it or will act accordingly." He also argued that he could have used his shares of SpaceX to fund the deal.
The shareholders who brought the class action suit had argued that Musk’s statements about funding were false, and that they lost vast amounts of money due to stock fluctuations in the aftermath of Musk’s tweets. But while the judge in the case concluded that the tweets were "objectively false and reckless," the jury didn’t find that Musk had deliberately misled the public.
While the verdict ends the years-long saga of the “funding secured” tweets, the posts weren’t entirely without consequences for Musk. He settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2018, and stepped down from his role as Tesla board chair as a condition of the settlement. Musk has long decried the SEC settlement and has said he was “forced to admit I lied to save Tesla’s life.”
In a statement to Bloomberg following the verdict, Musk's lawyer, Alex Spiro, said "the jury got it right." Musk also weighed in — naturally, via tweet — saying he was "deeply appreciative."
Thank goodness, the wisdom of the people has prevailed!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 3, 2023
I am deeply appreciative of the jury’s unanimous finding of innocence in the Tesla 420 take-private case.
Update 2/3 7:19 PM ET: Added Elon Musk's tweet about the verdict.