While judges often spare CEOs and other high-ranking officials from having to give deposits, Pennypacker rejected Tesla’s proposal to let Musk address questions in writing, noting that the attorneys in the case had already run into dead ends with that approach.
But the judge did excuse Musk from having to travel to give his deposition, saying he can do it virtually from his home in Texas, and said he can only be asked to verify that it was actually him in the videos — and can’t be questioned about the substance of his statements.
“This is not a free for all to ask about everything,” Pennypacker told lawyers.
“The questions that haven’t been answered are: ‘Is that you with Gayle King?’” she said, referring to a video of a 2018 test drive Musk did with a CBS journalist. “’Or is that you, you know, giving that TED Talk?’” Pennypacker added, referring to a 2017 interview. “That’s what has not been answered.”
Tesla’s lawyer, Tom Branigan, told the judge the company didn’t mean to suggest the videos are deep fakes, but “we raised this idea, this issue, because we’re living in a world today where these things exist.”
The lawsuit brought by the family of Walter Huang, who was an Apple Inc. engineer, is set for trial on July 31. The family claims the Autopilot system malfunctioned while Huang was on his morning commute and steered his car into the median.