The federal judge in fired Twitter executives’ lawsuit against Elon Musk abruptly dismisses himself

Last week, the federal judge who was initially assigned to preside over the civil lawsuit, filed by Twitter executives against Elon Musk of X, unexpectedly disqualified himself from the case on Friday, without providing any explanation.

U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam of the Northern District of California has issued an order to recuse himself, doing so on his own accord without any party in the case making a request.

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“I, Judge Gilliam, have determined that I am disqualified in the mentioned case. Therefore, I hereby recuse myself and request for the case to be reassigned according to the Assignment Plan,” stated Gilliam. He further added, “All the upcoming dates for motions, pretrial conferences, and trial are now cancelled and will be rescheduled by the newly assigned judge.”

According to Bloomberg, it was noted that Judge Gilliam, who was appointed by Barack Obama, has recused himself from the case without providing specific reasons. It is worth mentioning that Gilliam has previously presided over another lawsuit involving Elon Musk.

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On March 4, Elon Musk and X were sued by the fired plaintiffs in a California federal court. The plaintiffs are claiming $128 million, alleging that Musk bragged to his biographer about his plan to cheat Twitter’s executives out of their severance benefits. The motive behind this plan, according to the plaintiffs, was to save himself $200 million and fulfill his alleged vow of revenge after being compelled to acquire the social media company.

Parag Agrawal, Ned Segal, Vijaya Gadde, and Sean Edgett, a group of former top executives and a general counsel at what was formerly known as Twitter, have filed a lawsuit against Musk. They claim that Musk retaliated against them for advocating on behalf of Twitter’s public shareholders during his wrongful attempt to back out of the deal.

The lawsuit alleged that the plaintiffs fell victim to what is described in biographer Walter Isaacson’s book as the “Musk playbook.”

According to the lawsuit, the book revealed that a smooth transition had been planned for the opening of the stock market that morning. The money would be transferred, the stock would be delisted, and Musk would gain control. This would allow Agrawal and his top Twitter deputies to receive severance and have their stock options vested. However, Musk had a change of heart and decided against this plan. He opted for a swift closure that night instead. If his lawyers and bankers executed everything perfectly, he could terminate Agrawal and other top Twitter executives “for cause” before their stock options could be vested.

The plaintiffs claim that the book revealed insights into Elon Musk’s tactics of retaining owed money and compelling others to take legal action against him.

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The complaint further alleges that Musk terminated the plaintiffs without providing them with severance benefits. Instead, he fabricated false reasons to justify their dismissal and enlisted employees from his different companies to support his decision.

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