Elon Musk lost his fight to delay Twitter’s lawsuit against him as a judge called a trial in October on Tuesday, citing the ‘cloud of uncertainty’ over the social media company after the billionaire backed out of a deal to buy it.
Twitter wants the billionaire to keep his April promise to buy the social media giant for $44 billion (42 billion euros).
Musk, the world’s richest man, has pledged to pay $54.20 (€52.70) per share for Twitter, but now wants out of the deal.
“The continuing uncertainty is hurting Twitter every hour of every day,” William Savitt, a Twitter lawyer, said during the hearing, which took place remotely after judge Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick was tested positive on Monday for COVID-19.
The San Francisco-based company is seeking to resolve months of uncertainty for its business as Musk tries to back out of the deal over what he says are Twitter “spam” accounts he says are fundamental to his value.
Twitter wants an expedited trial in September because it said Musk was smearing Twitter and undermining operations by refusing to endorse business initiatives, such as an employee retention plan.
The company said adopting Musk’s “slow march” proposal for a 2023 trial leaves little time for further litigation over the financing of the deal if Musk is ordered to shut down. Funding for the deal expires in April.
Musk on Friday accused Twitter of seeking a “warp speed” lawsuit to “coerce” him into buying the company.
Since agreeing in April to buy Twitter, Musk has questioned whether the company misled regulators about fake accounts and bots and said he offered a lawsuit in February to give him enough time to investigate.
Twitter shares fell more than $50 (€48.79) per share when the deal was announced at $32.55 (€31.76) last week.
It was trading up around 2% on Tuesday morning and near the highest level since Musk announced he was stepping away.
Minor Myers, a professor at the UConn School of Law, said he expected McCormick to adopt a trial schedule close to Twitter’s proposal.
“The longer it drags, the more distracted Twitter gets,” he said. “There are more risks, more things that can go wrong.”