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Chris Katje

Elon Musk May Have Deleted Messages Related To Twitter, Trial Must Move Ahead: Judge

Despite news that Elon Musk again submitted a bid to acquire social media platform Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), a trial between the Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO and the acquisition target is still on.

What Happened: Judge Kathaleen McCormick sent a notice to counsel in the court case involving Musk and Twitter that the planned date of Oct. 17 would begin the highly anticipated trial.

“The parties have not filed a stipulation to stay this action, nor has any party moved for a stay. I, therefore, continue to press on toward our trial set to begin on October 17, 2022,” McCormick said.

The announcement comes after it was revealed that Musk proposed to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share once again on Tuesday.

Related Link: Twitter Sues Elon Musk: How Chuck Norris, Memes, Poop Emojis And Texts Play A Role In A Major Court Case 

Why It’s Important: McCormick makes notes of the text messages that were revealed recently from Musk discussing the Twitter acquisition.

The judge also mentions messages sent via Signal.

“With respect to Signal, Plaintiff argues that Musk sent or received Signal messages during the relevant period and that their deletion or non-production amounts to sanctionable spoliation,” McCormick said.

The plaintiff (Twitter) also claimed there were missing texts in the documents from the defendant.

“Defendants conceded as much but state that these incomplete logs were preliminary and were produced ‘in the interest of time.’”

The judge said this is believable given the two-day time limit put forth by the judge. The plaintiff called attention to several specific people not shown in the text log, including Morgan Stanley bankers and Musk’s attorney Alex Spiro.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Defendants are ordered to produce or log any of these messages that are responsive to Plaintiff’s requests.”

No texts were produced between May 24 and May 30 or between June 1 and June 7, which Twitter said shows gaps in the text log and likely missed texts discussing the acquisition.

“These periods were important to the parties’ dispute, and I share Plaintiff’s concern that Musk produced no responsive text messages from these periods,” McCormick added.

Musk is ordered to produce non-SMS instant messages and iMessages.

“With respect to Signal, Plaintiff argues that Defendants’ failure to produce Signal messages raises an inference that Musk deleted relevant messages that he was obligated to preserve.”

Despite the plaintiffs finding Signal was used to discuss potential financing of the deal, the defendants told counsel they “do not recall sending or receiving any other messages relating to the merger through Signal.”

Musk stated he has not intentionally deleted any e-mail, text or other communication related to the acquisition.

The defendants told the judge they were investigating the ability to get Signal messages that were automatically deleted back.

“If Defendants deleted documents after they were under a duty to preserve, some remedy is appropriate, but the appropriate remedy is unclear to me at this stage,” McCormick said.

The latest document from the judge puts full focus on the pending court date of Oct. 17.

Musk’s acquisition letter to Twitter on Tuesday stated he would pay the originally announced $54.20 per share if Twitter agreed to “adjourn the trial and all other legal proceeding related thereto pending such closing or further order of the court.”

Twitter has not announced if it was accepting the new proposal as of the time of writing.

TWTR Price Action: Twitter shares are down 1% to $51.63 on Wednesday.

Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Oberhaus on Flickr

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