Court Issues Voir Dire Order as Tesla Securities Suit Moves Towards Trial

In the latest in a securities lawsuit against Tesla, Judge Edward Chen has issued an order on jury selection and exhibits in the Northern District of California.  This consolidated securities class action litigation arises out of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s August 2018 tweet relating to his potentially taking Tesla private.

The order sets forth 50 questions for the jury questionnaire, many of which have subparts. The order  notes that the first 25 are “standard questions from the Northern District.”  Those questions generally seek information regarding the prospective jurors’ backgrounds, including employment and family history, prior experience with the litigation process and potential biases. 

The second half of the questionnaire contains questions in the same vein but also seeks information relevant to the specific case, such as information regarding experience in stock trading (including Tesla stock specifically); use of social media; experience relating to securities law, corporate finance and private equity;  and opinions concerning class action litigation generally, Elon Musk and Tesla.  The questionnaire advises prospective jurors that the trial is expected to last approximately three weeks.  The final question is “Have you ever had to make an important split-second decision?” 

The order states that “In light of the number of objected to exhibits on the revised joint exhibit list, by December 30, 2022, the parties must also jointly file an updated exhibit list that divides the exhibits into three categories: (1) certainly  sought to be admitted at trial; (2) likely to be sought to be admitted at trial; and (3) least likely to be sought to be admitted at trial.”   The order admonishes the parties on this point:  “While the Court recognizes that strategy may evolve over the course of the trial, the Court cautions the parties that significant discrepancies between the parties’ representations regarding the categorized exhibits and the exhibits used at trial may result in sanctions.”

The final Pre-Trial Conference Order states that jury selection is scheduled for January 17, 2023 and that the trial is expected to last until February 1st, a period shorter than the three  weeks noted in the jury questionnaire.

Lead plaintiffs’ counsel is Levi & Korsinsky, LLP . Defense counsel is Quinn,  Emmanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.