Jury selection is scheduled Tuesday morning in downtown Los Angeles for a defamation case involving Elon Musk and a British cave diver who alleges the Tesla CEO slandered him in comments made on Twitter.
Vern Unsworth filed suit last year after Musk called him a “pedo guy” on Twitter and referred to him in email messages to a BuzzFeed reporter as a “child rapist” who married a 12-year-old girl.
Both parties are among those expected to testify during the estimated weeklong trial in Los Angeles federal court. About 40 prospective jurors will be questioned in order to seat an eight-member civil panel.
In October, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson rejected Musk’s motion to dismiss Unsworth’s claims, telling attorneys that “malice” would play a part in the libel trial. The judge also allowed the BuzzFeed comments to be used to show Musk’s “state of mind” at the time.
Musk’s tweet came after an interview in which Unsworth, who was part of the 2018 rescue of a youth soccer team and its coach from a cave in Thailand, criticized the miniature submarine the tech tycoon sent to help with the rescue, calling the effort a publicity stunt.
The lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 in damages and a judge’s order stopping Musk from making further allegations.
Musk argued in court filings that he made the “pedo guy” insult on Twitter as a joke and claimed he regretted emailing the BuzzFeed reporter.