Topline

A judge ruled on Tuesday a trial addressing Twitter’s lawsuit against Tesla CEO Elon Musk will take place over the course of five days in October 2022, a win for the social media platform, following a bitter hearing in which Twitter’s attorney called Musk a “liar” and said he was trying to avoid a “reckoning” for backing out of his $44 billion deal to buy the platform.

Key Facts

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In a virtual hearing, Delaware Chancery Court judge Kathaleen McCormick granted Twitter’s request to expedite the trial, arguing the longer a merger transaction remains in limbo, the more “uncertainty” casts over the company, causing “greater irreparable harm” to the sellers.

At issue was whether the trial should be expedited, per Twitter’s request to force a resolution to the botched deal, or whether Musk’s team could receive a delay to conduct discovery on whether Twitter’s public claims about spam accounts are accurate in order to bolster his reasoning for withdrawing his bid.

Bill Savitt, Twitter’s top lawyer on the case, claimed Musk was “banking on” a justice “delay” becoming “justice denied,” while Musk’s lawyer, Andrew Rossman, fixed on Twitter’s calculations of spam accounts, arguing once again the company refused to offer Musk adequate data on bots and fake accounts.

Twitter’s top attorney argued the social media company’s calculations of spam accounts—which Musk has publicly questioned and cited as the reason for backing out of the deal—were irrelevant to the case because spam figures were not included in Musk’s acquisition agreement.

The public dispute continues to hurt Twitter by damaging the company’s reputation and leaving it “in limbo,” by “Mr. Musk’s design,” Savitt said, adding an “experienced counsel” could be prepared for trial in two and a half months.

Rossman, meanwhile, called Savitt’s claim that Musk was seeking to damage the company “preposterous,” noting Musk is the second biggest shareholder in the company.

Rossman argued Twitter’s proposed September trial schedule was “completely unjustifiable,” adding experts could not compile enough data in 60 days while arguing the company never received “an answer other than obfuscation, generalities and excuses” on Twitter’s calculation of spam accounts.

Crucial Quotes

Musk is a “liar looking to conjure an exit ramp for a deal that doesn't have one,” Savitt said on Tuesday.

Key Background

Tuesday's hearing was held via Zoom because McCormick said she tested positive for Covid-19. It comes two weeks after Musk announced he was “terminating” his offer to buy Twitter for $44 billion, claiming he believes Twitter has underestimated the amount of spam and fake accounts on its platform. The Tesla CEO also argued Twitter hasn't shared enough data to back up its numbers. In response, Twitter quickly filed a lawsuit seeking to force Musk to carry out the deal. The social media platform said spam account estimates aren't sufficient grounds to terminate an agreement and argued Musk was using the bot argument as an out for a deal he no longer wanted to complete. Twitter hit back at Musk on Monday after his attorneys asked to delay the trial, arguing the billionaire was attempting to "disparage Twitter and prolong this litigation" and called Musk's spam accounts concerns a “contractually irrelevant sideshow.”

Twitter Argues Musk's Bid To Delay Trial 'Fails At Every Level' (Forbes)

In first hearing, Twitter to push for speedy trial against Elon Musk (Washington Post)