Court gives investors the OK to subpoena Azealia Banks and Grimes in lawsuit against Elon Musk and Tesla, asking them to preserve information

A court granted the motion to serve subpoenas to Grimes in a lawsuit centered on Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s ‘funding secured’ tweet. Jason Kempin/Getty Images

A court has granted a motion by investors to serve subpoenas to preserve documents to the rapper Azealia Banks and the singer Grimes in a lawsuit against Tesla and Elon Musk, according to new court documents.

On Tuesday, the US District Court of Northern California granted the motion to serve document-preservation subpoenas against Banks and Grimes (whose real name is Claire Boucher) as well as Business Insider, The New York Times, and Gizmodo.

Adam M. Apton of Levi & Korsinsky, the firm representing the investors, told Business Insider he planned to serve all five parties subpoenas to preserve evidence.

The subpoenas will exclusively call for the parties to refrain from destroying certain documents, messages, and other potential evidence, as opposed to calling for them to provide the evidence to the court.

The plaintiffs are investors who are suing Tesla and Musk in a class-action lawsuit, claiming that Musk made false and misleading statements when he tweeted about plans to take the company private at $US420 a share. The complaint alleges that the tweet negatively affected people who purchased Tesla stock soon after it was sent, as they falsely believed he had funding secured to take the company private.

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Grimes was dating Musk at the time he sent the tweet, and she recently accompanied the Tesla CEO on a trip to China. Banks has said she was staying at one of Musk’s Los Angeles properties soon after he posted the tweet, and she told Business Insider she saw Musk “scrounging for investors” when she stayed at his house.

In December, attorneys representing the investors led by Apton moved for permission to subpoena Banks and Grimes. The motion also proposes subpoenaing Business Insider – which interviewed Banks about her time at Musk’s property – as well as Gizmodo and The New York Times, which interviewed Musk.

“Ms. Boucher and Ms. Banks were in close contact with Mr. Musk before and after the tweet and are believed to be in possession of relevant evidence concerning Mr. Musk’s motives,” Apton told Business Insider earlier in January. “Business Insider also appears to have relevant evidence in light of its relationship with Ms. Banks.”

The motion to serve subpoenas seeks to require the parties to preserve information, such as Twitter and Instagram messages, that could be relevant to the case. The filing argues messages posted on social media and shared via text message are “highly susceptible to deletion.”

While the court granted the motion, the filing also said a “claim that Defendants have a practice of trying to silence critics is not well supported” and called Apton’s claims that Banks might have been pressured to destroy evidence “largely speculative.”

Banks, Boucher, and Musk’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment. Tesla declined to comment.