(Reuters) – The British cave explorer who sued Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) Elon Musk for branding him “pedo guy” in a tweet has narrowed his defamation case against the electric car maker’s chief executive, and is no longer seeking damages for an emailed suggestion he might be a child rapist.
Vernon Unsworth, who has denied the allegations, chose to pursue liability and damages claims at a scheduled Dec. 3 negligence trial only for Musk’s tweets allegedly calling him a pedophile, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson said in a Wednesday order.
The judge also decided not to split up the trial to assess liability and punitive damages separately because evidence of Musk’s “state of mind” would be similar on both issues, and Musk refused to concede he did not use reasonable care in criticizing Unsworth.
Alex Spiro, a lawyer for Musk, declined to comment on Friday. Unsworth’s lawyer, L. Lin Wood, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Wilson issued his order after hearings this week in Los Angeles. Musk is expected to testify at trial.
The case arose after Unsworth and his diving team gained international renown in July 2018 by rescuing 12 boys and their soccer coach from a Thailand cave.