At UCLA, You Can Take a Class on ‘The Law of Elon Musk’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

At UCLA, You Can Take a Class on ‘The Law of Elon Musk’
Heisenberg Media | Flicker

Elon Musk’s bizarre behavior has sparked a lot of lawsuits over the years, from complaints about his Tweets to allegations that he’s part of Dogecoin scheme. One local professor thinks there’s a lesson to be learned from that long legal history.

Stephen Bainbridge, a UCLA law professor, has launched a new course called “Law of Elon Musk.” According to the course description, the class will explore “some of the ways in which law constrains (or fails to) Musk’s divergences from shareholder interests.”

Musk, the world’s richest man, has given Bainbridge plenty of material to work with. The CEO of Tesla and Hawthorne-based SpaceX is currently locked in a legal battle with Twitter after he tried to escape his agreement to buy the social media company for $44 billion. On Wednesday, a Delaware judge ruled that Musk can’t delay the October trial, but he can use evidence from a Twitter whistleblower who recently claimed the company lied about its security problems.

The Twitter snafu is hardly the only noteworthy legal case involving Musk. In 2018, Musk settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission after he tweeted that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private (he did not). Earlier this year, a judge sided with Musk after shareholders claimed Tesla’s $2.6 billion acquisition of struggling SolarCity amounted to a bailout, since Musk sat on the board of the rooftop solar panel maker, which was founded by his cousins.

All told, Musk and his companies have been parties to at least 1,400 lawsuits, the vast majority of them involving electric automaker Tesla (1,262), according to legal researcher Plainsite. Musk was personally named in 76 cases while SpaceX was party to 73. Musk’s The Boring Company, which until recently called Los Angeles home, was named in just six suits, per Plainsite.

“Musk has generated an enormous amount of corporate law and securities litigation,” the UCLA course description noted. “In many situations, Musk’s push-the-edge-of-the-envelope style led to the creation of new law.”

Bainbridge and a UCLA law spokesperson did not return requests for comment. In an interview with New York magazine, the professor said he thought a corporate law course centered on Musk would grab students’ attention. The class starts next year.

“The story that I see is the story of an incredibly smart and adventurous guy who’s capable of generating ideas that produce enormous amounts of value,” Bainbridge told the magazine. “But [Musk] would be a pain in the butt as a client because he often leaps before he looks.”

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