By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The Delaware state judge overseeing the trial to have Tesla CEO Elon Musk complete his $44 billion offer to purchase Twitter said Wednesday that the Oct. 17 start date is still on.
The announcement comes one day after Musk sent a letter to Twitter notifying the social media company that he intends to close the transaction on the terms he agreed to in April, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated Monday.
Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick said neither party has filed a motion to halt the proceedings, and, "I, therefore, continue to press on toward our trial set to begin on October 17, 2022."
Musk is scheduled to be deposed Thursday and he is slated to be questioned about whether he turned over all relevant communications. At issue are a set of messages sent via the Signal app that Twitter's attorneys have said should have been turned over to be evaluated as part of the court proceedings.
McCormick said in her 12-page order that it is "likely" Musk deleted some messages from the privacy-focused messaging app, which can be set to automatically delete communications after a period of time.
"I am forced to conclude that it is likely that Defendants’ custodians permitted the automatic deletion of responsive Signal communications between them and possibly others, and that those communications are irretrievably lost," she wrote.
McCormick maintained, however, that she has not yet determined whether penalties are warranted.
"If Defendants deleted documents after they were under a duty to preserve, some remedy is appropriate, but the appropriate remedy is unclear to me at this stage. I will reserve my ruling regarding Plaintiff’s request for sanctions, including adverse inferences, pending post-trial briefing, when I have a fuller understanding of the record," she said.
Musk sent his first letter to terminate the deal in July, alleging Twitter violated the original agreement by misrepresenting the number of spam and fake accounts on its platform.
Twitter, in turn, sued Musk to complete the acquisition, accusing the billionaire of using bots as a ploy to walk away from the takeover.
Twitter shareholders voted earlier this month in favor of Musk's original agreement.