A UK diver desires $190m (£145m) damages from Elon Musk for a tweet calling him “pedo man”, a US courtroom has heard.
Vernon Unsworth, who helped rescue 12 boys trapped in a Thai cave final yr, is suing Mr Musk for defamation.
He requested a jury in a Los Angeles federal courtroom to award him $150m in punitive damages, in addition to $40m for assumed and precise damages.
Mr Unsworth’s lawyer Lin Wooden mentioned the award could be a “onerous slap on the wrist” for the Tesla co-founder.
Calling Mr Musk, 48, a “billionaire bully” in his closing assertion, Mr Wooden advised the courtroom that his consumer’s modest life had been upended by the very public row.
“He dropped a nuclear bomb on Vernon Unsworth,” he mentioned, including that the “fallout” would impression on him for the remainder of his life.
Mr Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, responded that the tweets have been the results of an argument between the 2 males.
“In arguments you insult individuals,” Mr Spiro mentioned. “There isn’t a bomb. No bomb went off.”
How did the row begin?
The case of the Thai boys, members of a soccer crew who have been trapped deep inside a collapse northern Thailand, captured the world’s consideration in June 2018.
Mr Unsworth, a 64-year-old skilled cave explorer, splits his time between the UK and Thailand. In the course of the rescue, he helped recruit skilled cave divers who have been instrumental in liberating the boys safely.
Mr Musk despatched Tesla engineers and a small submarine to assist with the Thai rescue effort, nevertheless it was by no means used.
As a substitute, he and Mr Unsworth acquired right into a public confrontation after the diver dismissed the supply of assist.
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Media captionHow the Thai cave boys have been rescued
Mr Unsworth labelled the submarine a “PR stunt”, and through an interview with CNN instructed the billionaire “stick his submarine the place it hurts”.
Mr Musk, who has 22 million followers, responded with a sequence of tweets about Mr Unsworth – together with one calling him “pedo man”, which has since been deleted.
What has been mentioned in courtroom to this point?
Testifying over two days on Tuesday and Wednesday, Mr Musk advised the courtroom he didn’t anticipate the “pedo” tweet to be taken actually.
He mentioned that on the time he thought Mr Unsworth was “just a few random creepy man” who was “unrelated to the rescue”.
Mr Musk apologised on Twitter and in courtroom for his outburst. He additionally mentioned the time period “pedo man” was a standard insult in South Africa, the place he grew up.
Contesting this, Mr Wooden cited one other now-deleted tweet the billionaire despatched to his followers saying: “Wager ya a signed greenback it is true.”
Then, in an e mail trade with a Buzzfeed reporter who contacted him for touch upon the specter of authorized motion by Mr Unsworth, Mr Musk mentioned: “Cease defending little one rapists.”
On Thursday, Mr Unsworth advised the courtroom that Mr Musk’s tweet left him feeling “humiliated”.
Cave diver says Elon Musk tweets ‘humiliated’ him
Musk says ‘pedo man’ tweet not meant actually
Courtroom reporters mentioned the diver appeared on the verge of tears as he advised jurors: “It feels very uncooked. I really feel humiliated. Ashamed. Dirtied. Successfully, from day one, I used to be given a life sentence with out parole. It hurts to speak about it.”
He added: “I discover it disgusting. I discover it very onerous to even learn the phrase, by no means thoughts speak about.”