Elon Musk Owned Again: Twitter Wins Bid to Move Trial Forward

Elon Musk has asked the court to delay the trial, but a judge has denied that request, moving the Twitter Musk deal along.

To say that the Twitter deal is going sideways for Elon Musk would be an understatement at this point. It went from an all but sure thing back in April to Musk suddenly trying to get out of the deal to Twitter filing a lawsuit against Musk. While far right extremists were saying how the Twitter deal was totally going to “own the libs”, it seemed that Musk has effectively “owned” himself in the process.

Musk did file a legal response to Twitter’s lawsuit. The reception to that legal response has been a general facepalm. Mike Masnick of Techdirt commented that the lawsuit may win over fans, but it is a bad legal argument:

Well, Musk has filed his opening in reply… and he (1) doesn’t have a strong comeback, (2) basically just ignored the points he’s going to need to refute, and (3) seems entirely focused on pushing the narrative about spam accounts (which is legally meaningless). Musk has good lawyers, and they’ve been dealt a tough hand by their client. But, still.

Amusingly, as a PR strategy, perhaps this is working. If you sample the discussions on Twitter, there are lots of very ignorant people who seem to think this filing is a strong one. They’re wrong. Musk could still succeed in this case, but it will be in spite of this filing, not because of it.

It seems that Musk is mysteriously not in a hurry to move forward with the trial. It’s, at minimum, a bit odd to want to delay a trial for as long as possible unless you are not entirely sure you are going to succeed. From Engadget:

Elon Musk’s lawyers allege Twitter is pushing for an unreasonably fast trial over allegations the Tesla and SpaceX CEO improperly ended his $44 billion bid to buy the social media platform, reports Bloomberg. “Twitter’s sudden request for warp speed after two months of foot-dragging and obfuscation is its latest tactic to shroud the truth about spam accounts long enough to railroad defendants into closing,” Musk’s legal team wrote in a complaint filed Friday in response to Twitter’s July 12th lawsuit.

The two sides are pushing for the case to be considered on dramatically different timelines. Noting the deal has an October 24th “drop-dead date,” Twitter asked for a four-day trial that would conclude before the end of September. Meanwhile, Musk’s team says the case should go to trial no sooner than February 13th, 2023.

Twitter fired back against the attempt to delay the trial, saying that the uncertainty has harmed Twitter. From CNBC:

In Monday’s filing, Twitter accused Musk of using delay tactics to harm the company in the court of public opinion.

“The earliest possible trial date is imperative,” wrote the company’s lawyers. “This very public dispute harms Twitter with each passing day Musk is in breach. Musk amplifies this harm by using the Company’s own platform as a megaphone to disparage it.”

Twitter’s attorneys noted in their filing, “Millions of Twitter shares trade daily under a cloud of Musk-created doubt. No public company of this size and scale has ever had to bear these uncertainties.”

The funny thing in all of this is that while armchair experts can speculate on likelihood of how the court case will move forward, the ultimate decision rests on the judge in question. As it turns out, those who think Musk has a weak legal argument are probably feeling really good right about now about their analysis. Today, we are learning that Musk has lost his bid to delay the trial. From Arstechnica:

Elon Musk has lost his attempt to delay the Twitter trial until next year. Delaware Court of Chancery Judge Kathaleen McCormick scheduled a five-day trial for October, rejecting Musk’s request for a trial in February 2023.

McCormick’s ruling came far closer to Twitter’s preferred timeline than Musk’s. Twitter, which is suing Musk to force him to complete their agreed-upon merger, was seeking a four-day trial in September 2022.

“The reality is delay threatens irreparable harm to the sellers,” McCormick said today, as reported by Reuters. “Those concerns are on full display in the present case,” she also said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Typically, the longer the merger transaction remains in limbo, the larger the cloud of uncertainty cast over the company and the greater the risk of irreparable harm to the sellers.”

So, this deals a major blow to Musk who now has to contend with a court case in September. These are not necessarily the greatest signs for a successful court battle from Musk’s perspective. At the moment, it seems that the momentum is squarely on Twitters side. Obviously, Musk could still pull out a win in the case, but it looks like it would have to come from the September court case at the earliest now. For now, Musk will have to stew in the fact that he just got owned by Twitter.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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