The legal battle between Twitter and Elon Musk opened on Tuesday, July 19, with a first hearing, a week after the platform launched legal proceedings against the boss of Tesla and SpaceX. An American judge has set the start of the trial in October, for a period of five days, acceding to the request of the social network for a rapid procedure.
The platform launched lawsuits last week against the boss of Tesla and SpaceX to force him to honor his commitment to acquire it for 44 billion dollars. Twitter wanted an accelerated procedure, from September, so as not to prolong the period of uncertainty which partially paralyzes the company.
Judge Kathaleen McCormick, president of a court specializing in business law in Delaware (Northeast), acknowledged that “delays risked causing irreparable damage to Twitter”. She also mentioned that it was not certain that the payment of damages from Elon Musk would be enough to repair the harm suffered.
Elon Musk’s lawyers had filed an appeal on Friday for hostilities not to be opened before next year. They assure that the experts will have to analyze “mountains of data” to prove, as the multi-billionaire claims, that the platform is riddled with rogue accounts and spam, well beyond the officially reported 5% figure. This is the reason that Elon Musk had given to unilaterally end the agreement to take over the social network which he considers a ” public place “ essential to the ” democracy “.
“This topic, which Musk says will require a complex review, is a fabricated problem, designed to complicate matters and cause delays”argued William Savitt, the lawyer for Twitter. “The merger agreement doesn’t even mention bots or spam”he insisted. “We suspect that Mr. Musk wants to delay this trial long enough to never be held to account. (…) He knows that in such circumstances, justice delayed is often justice not served. That’s what he hopes.”he asserted.
Although she is going through an image crisis after months of attacks and denigration from her former suitor, the platform is the favorite in this showdown. “Twitter’s stock is in good shape” since the complaint was filed, noted Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. “It seems that many investors who have read it have concluded that this confrontation with the Game Of Thrones in the courts will end with a victory for Twitter. » At the end of the day, around 8 p.m., the action of Twitter took more than 3%, to 39.69 dollars.
By ” victoire “, the expert hears a decision of the judge which would force Elon Musk to buy the company at the price agreed at the end of April (54.20 dollars per share) or to pay significant damages. The likelihood of him getting away with paying only the $1 billion severance package, or being found in his own right, is considered very low.
A lawsuit can still be avoided
The litigation depends on the Delaware Court of Chancery whose president Kathaleen McCormick – the first woman in this position – took up the case. “She is a very serious judge, who will not be intimidated by either party. (…) In the past, she has not been kind to those who show bad faith.underlines Adam Badawi, professor of law at the University of Berkeley.
In its complaint, Twitter accused Elon Musk of having shown “of hypocrisy” and of “bad faith”. Lawyers for the company believe he has changed his mind in the face of the recent drop in stock market valuations of technology companies.
Kathaleen McCormick is best known for having forced Kohlberg, a company that had also tried to break off an engagement, to buy the company in question, DecoPac. The fate of the bluebird, a social network used worldwide by politicians, celebrities, activists and influencers, seems to have little in common with that of less prominent organizations. The multibillionaire and the board of directors can still choose to agree on a slightly lower price and thus avoid the lawsuit.
The prospect that Elon Musk buys the social network, willingly or by force, has aroused, since April, a certain anxiety among many employees and users of the blue bird, as well as on the part of associations for the defense of human rights in line, because the whimsical boss intends to relax the safeguards against harassment and misinformation.