In a nutshell: The jury has ruled that Elon Musk is not liable for damages after calling Vernon Unsworth, a cave diver involved in the rescue of a soccer team in Thailand, a “pedo guy.” Musk’s defense was that his hastily deleted tweet was only meant to insult Unsworth, rather than damage his reputation.
Walking out of court, Musk told reporters, “my faith in humanity is restored.”
In July 2018, when twelve boys and their coach were trapped in a flooded cave system, Unsworth was planning a rescue attempt with Thai divers while Elon Musk began constructing a miniature submarine designed for extraction. Fortunately, the divers were able to rescue the boys and Musk’s plan B wasn’t required.
A few days later, however, in an interview with CNN Unsworth said the sub “had absolutely no chance of working” because Musk “had no concept of what the cave passage was like.” He claimed it was only a publicity stunt and told Musk to “stick his sub where it hurt.”
Musk bit back on Twitter saying “we will make [a video] of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problem. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”
And a month later, Musk tweeted “you don’t think it’s strange he hasn’t sued me?” …and Unsworth initiated the proceedings to sue him. (Who was asking for it then, huh?) Unsworth’s lawyer asked for $5 million in damages, $35 million in assumed damages and $150 million in punitive damages, a “hard slap on the wrist” for billionaire Elon Musk.
Unsworth claimed Musk’s statements had ruined his reputation and caused him “shame, mortification, worry, and distress.” Musk argued that the tweets were “obviously a very off the cuff response” and by deleting them and apologizing for them, he had made it clear he was not making an accusation against Unsworth, who he never actually mentioned by name.
“I knew he didn’t mean to sodomize me with a submarine, just as I didn’t literally mean he was a pedophile.”