Tesla founder Elon Musk did not defame a British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth when he called him ''pedo guy'' in an angry tweet last year, a Los Angeles jury ruled on Friday.
Vernon Unsworth participated in the rescue mission in Thailand in 2018 when 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped in a cave for weeks.
Musk also involved himself in the Thai rescue operation by instructing his team to build a mini-submarine to help save the boys. However, Musk arrived in Thailand later than anticipated, and the craft was never used.
In an interview with CNN, the diver ridiculed the billionaire's efforts to help, advising Musk to ''stick his submarine where it hurts.''
After watching the interview, Musk got angry and called him ''sus'' ( suspicious) and a ''pedo guy'' on Tweeter. In addition to that, in his e-mail correspondence with Buzzfeed reporter Ryan Mac, Musk referred to the spelunker as a '' child rapist.''
In September 2018, Vernon Unsworth brought Musk to court, seeking USD 190 million in damages from SpaceX and Tesla founder, highlighting that the controversial tweet damaged his reputation.
During his testimony in court this week, Unsworth admitted that Musk's tweet made him feel ''ashamed, dirty, and humiliated.'' Unsworth's attorney L. Lin Wood pointed out that the tweet was a ''nuclear bomb'' thrown on his client that has harmed his professional and personal life.
Elon Musk apologized in court, saying that the attack was unprovoked. Musk also explained that the term ''pedo guy'' was a common insult in South Africa, where he was born. He meant the term as an insult for ''creepy old man'' and wasn't implying that Unsworth is a pedophile.
Alex Spiro, Musk's leading lawyer, argued that ''pedo guy'' was nothing but heated rhetoric and not meant as a statement of fact. Spiro also accused Unsworth of looking for a payday in court as he did not prove to be sincerely harmed by the ''pedo guy'' label.
While leaving the Los Angeles court on Friday, Musk said that his faith in humanity was completely restored after the verdict. Unsworth did not hide his disappointment by the court's decision but pointed out he respected it.
The trial was closely monitored worldwide as Vernon Unsworth vs. Elon Musk was one of the first significant defamation lawsuits - brought by an individual over a tweet - to ever go to trial.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the court's decision?