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Elon Musk Denied Trial Delay in Delaware Court

However the judge granted that the billionaire can include a former Twitter security chief's whistleblower claims into his case.

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The latest ruling in Twitter’s ongoing lawsuit against Elon Musk is something of a compromise.
The latest ruling in Twitter’s ongoing lawsuit against Elon Musk is something of a compromise.
Photo: Jae C. Hong (AP)

A judge in Delaware Chancery Court has denied Elon Musk and his legal team a requested trial delay in the ongoing Twitter lawsuit against the billionaire for the second time, in a Wednesday ruling.

“I am convinced that even four weeks’ delay would risk further harm to Twitter too great to justify,” wrote Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick in the court filing. In her reasoning, she cites employee departures and the difficulty Twitter has faced continuing operations amid Musk’s chaotic attempts to walk back his $44 billion agreement to purchase the social media platform.

Earlier in this seemingly endless debacle, back in July, McCormick also refused to grant Musk’s team their request to push the trial to February 2023, opting instead for five days scheduled in October of this year.

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However, the most recent ruling isn’t all bad news for history’s richest man. McCormick denied the requested delay, but has opted to allow the Tesla CEO to include a whistleblower complaint from Peiter “Mudge” Zatko into the case.

Zatko, formerly a Twitter security executive, released a lengthy whistleblower document to the Washington Post, CNN, and lawmakers in late August. In the complaint, Zatko detailed claims of the social media company’s many security failings and weaknesses. He also included allegations that Twitter knowingly opts to forgo accurate accounting of bots on the platform, adding fuel to the fire of Musk’s incessant bot data demands.

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Soon after blowing the proverbial whistle, the ex-exec was subpoenaed to testify by both Congress and Musk’s legal team. Zatko said that he will comply with both subpoenas, though his lawyers denied speculative claims that he filed the initial disclosure for Musk’s remorseful buyer benefit.

“Mr. Zatko will comply with his legal obligations of that subpoena and his appearance at the deposition is involuntary. He did not make his whistleblower disclosures to the appropriate governmental bodies to benefit Musk or to harm Twitter, but rather to protect the American public and Twitter shareholders,” the whistleblower’s legal team said in a statement.

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As a condition of allowing Zatko’s complaint to be added into the Defense case, McCormick has opted to limit additional investigation to only the whistleblower allegations, on top of denying the extension. From the court filing:

Defendants are permitted only incremental discovery relevant to the new allegations. That discovery can be made through targeted document discovery and minimal additional experts and fact witnesses. The parties are ordered to confer immediately to attempt to negotiate reasonable parameters for the additional discovery

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Yet, the Chancellor declined to agree with Twitter that including the new complaint material would be “futile.” Instead, she is leaving the decision on whether or not the whistleblower document changes anything for Musk up to the forthcoming legal process, “the world will have to wait for the post-trial decision.”