Tuesday’s hearing was marked by hard-hitting arguments from both sides – including a Twitter lawyer at one point referring to Musk as a “committed enemy” – setting the stage for what is almost certain to be a contentious legal battle.
Twitter’s senior adviser William Savitt came out against Musk at the start of the hearing as he argued in favor of a speedy trial. Savit said the company’s ongoing uncertainty over the deal and pending litigation is “damaging Twitter every day, every hour, every day.” He also noted what he described as Musk’s continued disdain for Twitter, including on his own platform.
“Musk was and remains contractually obligated to do everything in his power to conclude this transaction,” Savitt said. “What it does is just the opposite; it’s sabotage.”
Andrew Rossman, Musk’s attorney, defended Musk, saying that Musk “has no incentive to maintain this suspension for long,” noting that the billionaire remains one of Twitter’s largest contributors. He also noted that Twitter only sued Musk for his alleged violations of the deal after he moved to close the deal, suggesting that waiting for the company negated its desire for the expedition. (The judge said in her comments that the timing of Twitter was not “unreasonable.”)
Musk’s team suggested that the dispute should be tried early next year. “We are not opposed to a complete cessation of the expedition, nor are we asking for years here,” Rossman said. “What we are offering instead, Your Majesty, is an incredibly fast and reasonable schedule.”
After each side’s argument, the judge overseeing the case, Delaware Court Counsel Kathleen St. Judd McCormick, said Musk’s side “underestimates this court’s ability … to handle complex litigation quickly.”
“The truth is that delay threatens to do irreparable harm [to Twitter] Announcing the scheduling plan, McCormick said… the longer the delay, the higher the risks. She added that while there are a few cases that require a trial longer than five days, she will receive a request from either side to extend the trial if necessary. .
Even with this early disagreement over dates, the stakes were high for Twitter. The company was already struggling to grow its user base and advertising business before Musk’s involvement, and now it and several other tech companies are pulling back on costs amid rampant inflation and fears of a recession. Twitter needs a quick fix to the battle with Musk in order to reduce uncertainty for its shareholders, employees and customers, and any fallout for its business could be exacerbated by costly and protracted litigation.
“There may be hints of what you ask and what you say, and what they say, during the hearing, that might tell us something,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond Law School.
The case has already hit a small snag: While the hearing was originally scheduled in person, McCormick sent a letter to the parties on Monday alerting them that she had tested positive for Covid-19 and would move the hearing to Zoom.
Rossman on Tuesday called the idea that Musk’s concerns about robots were an excuse to get out of the deal “nonsense.”
“We have reason to believe, based on what we’ve seen so far, that the real numbers [of bots and fake accounts on Twitter] much higher [than Twitter has publicly reported]Rossman said Twitter’s allegations that Musk breached the deal “are artificial to attempt to strip Mr. Musk of his claim rights that he can terminate the agreement.”
Twitter asked the court to compel Musk to complete the purchase of the company. While many legal experts say Twitter probably has the strongest argument in the dispute, some also expect the company to end up settling with the billionaire if the case starts to spill over, in an effort to limit disruption to its business.
As with the controversy in general, Twitter and Musk were at odds over whether a speedy trial should take place. In its article, Twitter said the campaign was necessary to ensure the deal was completed before the October 24 date when the two sides previously agreed to close the deal, and to “protect Twitter and its shareholders from ongoing market risk and operational damage from Musk’s attempt to bully his way out of an airtight merger agreement.” “.
In Friday’s court filing, Musk’s lawyers called Twitter asked for a “maximum expedition” and claimed the dispute is “very real and requires a lot of experts, and takes a significant amount of time to figure it out.” They also claimed that the original agreement stated that the final delivery date would not be in effect if one of the parties sued over the deal, calling Twitter’s request an “argument,” and that A 10-day trial is scheduled on or after February 13, 2023.
Twitter’s lawyer on Tuesday rejected Musk’s team’s claim that the discovery process would take months because it would require digging into details about the number of bot and fake accounts on the platform. Savit said the robot’s question was “unequivocally and clearly not in court in this case.”
“Nothing in the merger agreement reverses this question, and there is no representation or guarantee in the merger regarding the number of false accounts that may be present on Twitter,” Savit said. He added that “Musk could have worked hard on this issue” before signing the deal, but he did not.
Despite Musk’s move to terminate the deal, “we are committed to closing the merger on the price and terms agreed with Mr. Musk,” the Friday letter said. “Your vote at the private meeting is critical to our ability to complete the merger.”