Judge denies dueling requests for sanctions in Elon Musk defamation case

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AP Alex Spiro 1

Attorney Alex Spiro emerges from a courtroom at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in April 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Patrick Dove/ via the Associated Press)

A Texas judge has denied a bid for sanctions claiming that BigLaw partner Alex Spiro “brazenly” appeared at a deposition for Tesla CEO Elon Musk without pro hac vice permission and then acted in “an obnoxious manner.”

Judge Maria Cantu Hexsel of Travis County, Texas, also denied a cross-motion for sanctions against the opposing counsel, Mark Bankston, who allegedly “descended into schoolyard antics” at the deposition., Law360 and Reuters have coverage of Hexsel’s May 29 decision.

Spiro is a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan who represents Musk in a defamation lawsuit claiming that Musk defamed Bankston’s client, Benjamin Brody. Musk is accused of amplifying a false claim about Brody on X, the former Twitter social media website now owned by Musk.

Hexsel also granted pro hac vice status to Spiro and another lawyer at his law firm. But she denied Musk’s motion to dismiss Brody’s case.

Bankston issued this May 29 statement on X: “Elon Musk’s attorneys called it ‘a shakedown,’ but I am proud to announce that today a Texas judge has rejected Musk’s attempts to dismiss the lawsuit I brought on behalf of Ben Brody, a Jewish college student who was falsely accused of being a neo-Nazi rioter.”

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