Elon Musk has to pay three fired Twitter executives nearly $200 million to settle a lawsuit that accused them of violating the company’s social media policy by criticizing Tesla Motors and posting negative tweets about President Donald Trump, according to documents filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The lawsuit, which Musk settled in March, was brought against Andrew Kelleher, Twitter’s head of corporate communications and public policy, and his former deputies, and Arianna Huffington and Arianna Stassinopoulos.
The suit accused the three of violating Twitter’s “Fairness Policy” by “engaging in conduct related to Tesla’s public statement, news coverage and social media accounts to criticize… Tesla,” and by “expressing their personal opinions about the subject matter of the Twitter communications.”
The complaint added that Musk and several other Twitter employees had sent “inaccurate and false information to the public in order to advance their personal political, ideological or religious views” and that they “attacked” the National Enquirer and its founder, American Media.
A spokesperson for Musk declined to comment. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musk has vowed to fight the settlement, which requires him to pay $84 million to the company in cash and another $25 million in “out-of-pocket expenses and profits.” In a Twitter comment posted on Twitter after the tweet was sent: “This settlement is a gift to lawyers. Thanks to all who believed in our mission and stood by us as we fought for justice.”
The deal is not final; U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson can order the court filing withdrawn, and a final ruling could take months or years.
The three lawsuit defendants were represented by Reed Smith, a New York law firm. A spokeswoman for that firm declined to comment.
The case first came to light last year when Musk, who was not named a party to the lawsuit, sent a tweet that said he was “considering taking Tesla private,” a move that the company has since said would be a direct conflict with his current employment agreement with Tesla that calls for his tweets to be “non-public and non-commercial.”
The suit alleges that Musk and the company violated Twitter’s policy by using the hashtag #TSLA to criticize Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk. It also claimed that the company’s statements “contain numerous