Elon Musk sparred with a lawyer in court on Monday, calling him a ‘bad human’ who asked ‘tricky and deceptive’ questions

Elon Musk, wearing a black suit and flanked by another man in a black suit and a police officer, walking in front of a gray metal barricade.
Elon Musk arriving at the Delaware Court of Chancery on Monday. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
  • Elon Musk called a lawyer representing Tesla shareholders a “bad human” in court on Monday.
  • Musk was defending Tesla’s 2016 acquisition of SolarCity.
  • Musk told the lawyer that his questions were “tricky and deceptive.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk sparred with a lawyer representing Tesla shareholders in court on Monday, calling the attorney a “bad human.”

The Tesla CEO was defending his company’s 2016 acquisition of SolarCity, a solar-panel company founded by his cousins. The plaintiffs claim that the deal amounted to a bailout of SolarCity.

Musk gave lengthy responses to yes-or-no questions during the trial at Delaware’s Court of Chancery, frustrating the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Randall Baron, who told Musk he was holding up the trial, the Delaware News Journal and The Associated Press reported.

Musk told Baron that some of his questions were “really tricky and deceptive,” the reports said.

“I think you are a bad human being,” Musk told Baron after the lawyer asked him if he was being “derisive” in his answers to questions, the Journal and The Washington Post reported.

“You were mentored by criminals, then continued to be mentored by criminals,” Musk told Baron, citing examples of criminal wrongdoing by a former partner at a firm that was a predecessor of Baron’s law firm, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, The Post reported.

Tesla shareholders filed the lawsuit in 2017, accusing Musk of pressuring the company’s board to effectively bail out SolarCity in the $2.6 billion deal. Musk owned a roughly 22% stake in Tesla and SolarCity at the time, according to Reuters.

Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s cofounder and Musk’s cousin, described the firm as “super low on cash” and in need of capital in an email to an unnamed person in 2016, soon after the deal was announced.

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Musk denied that he had benefited from the deal. “Since it was a stock-for-stock transaction and I owned almost exactly the same percentage of both there was no financial gain,” he told the court on Monday, according to CNBC.

In an email to Insider, Baron said that the full damages sought in the lawsuit were between $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion, though Musk could pay less if he’s found liable.

SolarCity became Tesla Energy, Tesla’s solar-power division, after the acquisition. Tesla Energy customers told Insider earlier this year that Tesla had not responded to their calls and had bumped up solar-roof prices by thousands of dollars.

Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Do you work at Tesla Energy or are you a Tesla Energy customer? Contact this reporter at [email protected]. If you are an employee, always use a nonwork email.