All the Major Legal Battles Elon Musk and His Companies Are Facing

By Rachel Graf | June 10, 2024

Elon Musk and his companies are embroiled in dozens of lawsuits, ranging from fatal crashes blamed on Tesla Inc.’s Autopilot system to civil rights complaints over the treatment of employees.

Tesla’s board and Musk were hit Thursday with another suit over his $55.8 billion pay package that a judge voided in January — ahead of a June 13 shareholder proxy vote on whether the company should resurrect it.

Musk, who has a history of sparring with regulators, also faces government investigations into his companies that could result in more lawsuits or even criminal prosecutions.

Here’s a breakdown of the major legal battles faced by the world’s third-richest person and his companies:


Autopilot Crashes, California and Florida state and federal courts

The electric-car maker faces at least half a dozen wrongful death claims over fatal crashes blamed on its Autopilot driver-assistance system.

At stake: A finding that Tesla is culpable for deaths would imperil Musk’s quest to lead the way for fully self-driving cars to cruise down busy city streets and freeways.

Related: Tesla Settles Fatal Crash Suit as Another Jury Trial Loomed

Race Discrimination, California state and federal courts

Tesla faces multiple suits over allegations of racism on its production floor filed by workers, California’s civil rights department and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

At stake: The automaker could have to pay damages and foster a more inclusive environment.

Pay Package, Delaware Chancery Court

Musk is poised to appeal a judge’s decision voiding his Tesla pay package as excessive, while Tesla plans to ask shareholders at the company’s June 13 annual meeting to ratify the same compensation plan approved six years ago. A new suit alleges Musk is trying to strong-arm shareholders into resurrecting the record-setting pay package through a proxy vote.

At stake: Musk has suggested the largest-ever executive pay package is necessary for him to have “the right amount of voting influence at Tesla,” so he can grow it to be a leader in artificial intelligence and robotics.

Anti-Union Tweet, federal appeals court in New Orleans

A 17-judge panel is reviewing a finding by the National Labor Relations Board that Musk illegally threatened workers with the loss of benefits if they unionized.

At stake: A ruling condemning the CEO’s commentary on social media would be a comeuppance for Musk and a morale boost for labor activists who are trying to organize Tesla workers.

Drug Use, Delaware Chancery Court

A shareholder suit alleges that Musk’s use of illicit recreational drugs threatens Tesla’s business, including by apparently influencing his sometimes erratic behavior online.

At stake: The lawsuit seeks closer supervision of Musk’s social media posts about Tesla, which are already supposed to be vetted under an agreement he reached in 2018 with the Securities and Exchange Commission and unsuccessfully challenged all the way to the US Supreme Court.

False Advertising, California federal courts

Tesla faces numerous lawsuits claiming misrepresentations to consumers, including that the company inflated how far its electric vehicles drive on a charge and over-hyped their driving-assistance capabilities.

At stake: The lawsuits take aim at features Tesla promotes to distinguish itself from competitors and are core to the company’s market value.

Related: Tesla Must Face False Advertising Claims it Misled Buyers About Self-Driving

JPMorgan Stock Warrants, New York federal court

JPMorgan sued Tesla seeking a $162 million payment related to a series of stock warrant transactions dating back to 2014, and Tesla later countersued the bank.

At stake: If the case goes to trial, Musk’s infamous 2018 tweet about taking Tesla private that is central to the dispute will once again haunt the company.

‘Insider’ Sale of $7.5 Billion in Stock, Delaware Chancery Court

A Tesla shareholder alleges Musk had inside knowledge of a miss on production and delivery numbers that the company was facing when he sold more than $7.5 billion in stock in 2022 to help pay for his acquisition of Twitter Inc.

At stake: The investor wants Musk to be ordered return the profit from his allegedly improper trading to the company.


Employee Pay, California state and federal courts

X Corp., formerly Twitter, has been accused in multiple suits of labor and workplace violations in the wake of mass layoffs after Musk’s 2022 acquisition, including reneging on promises to pay severance to executives and thousands of workers.

At stake: Collectively, the lawsuits seek hundreds of millions of dollars in back pay.

Unpaid Bills, California state courts

X has been accused in multiple suits of failing to pay vendors and landlords after Musk took over the company and set about cutting operating costs.

At stake: Collectively, the complaints cite millions of dollars of unpaid expenses.

Twitter Takeover, California federal court

Musk faces an investor lawsuit claiming he fueled uncertainty about his proposed buyout in an effort to drive down the platform’s stock price.

At stake: The investors seek unspecified damages over stock value losses.

Content Moderation, California federal court

X has sued non-profits that have issued reports criticizing toxic posts on the platform and faulting the company for lax content moderation.

At stake: X already lost one suit, but if it can prove its claim in the other case that a series of published articles are false and malicious attacks aimed at driving advertisers away, Musk’s company could win monetary damages.


Retaliatory Firings, California

SpaceX was accused by the NLRB of illegally firing eight employees over an internal letter sharply critical of Musk.

At stake: The company could be forced to reinstate the workers or provide back pay, but the US labor board generally can’t hold executives personally liable for alleged wrongdoing or issue any punitive damages.

US Labor Board, California federal court

SpaceX sued the NLRB to have the agency’s structure for in-house administrative proceedings declared unconstitutional after the board filed its complaint over fired SpaceX employees.

At stake: A victory for SpaceX could hobble the authority of the federal labor rights watchdog.

Gender Discrimination, California state court

SpaceX faces multiple gender-discrimination suits, including allegations that female employees are underpaid relative to men and subject to sexual harassment.

At stake: A loss for the company would hurt its reputation and might discourage talented female engineers and managers from seeking employment.

Wildlife Area Launchpad, DC federal court

SpaceX’s use of a rocket launchpad neighboring a Texas wildlife refuge drew a lawsuit from environmental groups over how the site won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

At stake: The environmental scrutiny could delay future licensing for the company.


Musk v. OpenAI, California state court

Musk is suing OpenAI and its Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman for allegedly putting profit ahead of humanity in violation of the startup’s founding mission.

At stake: A win for Musk would have implications for OpenAI, which is in talks to raise funds at a valuation of $100 billion or more, and for Microsoft Corp., which has invested about $13 billion in OpenAI.

Fired Disney Actor, California federal court

Musk is funding a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. by The Mandalorian actor Gina Carano over controversial statements she posted on X.

At stake: As a “free-speech absolutist,” Musk has promised to pay legal fees for people fired from jobs for statements they made on the platform.

‘False Flag’ Defamation, Texas state court

Musk faces a defamation suit for allegedly promoting a conspiracy theory that falsely identified a California Jewish man as involved in a scheme to discredit right-wing groups by posing as a neo-Nazi street brawler.

At stake: Ben Brody, who filed the lawsuit, is seeking at least $1 million in damages.

Dogecoin Cryptocurrency, New York federal court

Musk, SpaceX and Tesla were sued for allegedly participating in a racketeering scheme to inflate the price of the cryptocurrency Dogecoin.

At stake: The lawsuit initially included a claim for $258 billion in damages, but an amended complaint removed any specific figure.


Tesla Self-Driving

The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission launched investigations in 2021 and 2022 about whether Tesla made misleading claims about its vehicles’ purported self-driving capabilities.

At stake: The probes could result in a regulatory enforcement action or criminal charges against Tesla.

Glass House

The SEC and Justice Department last year started investigating whether Tesla improperly used company funds to build a glass house in Texas and whether Musk was involved, the Wall Street Journal reported.

At stake: The probes could result in a regulatory enforcement action over securities law violations or criminal charges against Tesla.

Twitter Stock Purchases

The SEC is seeking information about Musk’s 2022 purchases of Twitter stock and statements he made about his investments ahead of his $44 billion purchase of the social media platform.

At stake: The probe could lead to an enforcement action over securities law violations and possible fines for Musk.

X Privacy

The US Federal Trade Commission is monitoring X over its compliance with a May 2022 settlement over data privacy practices reached prior to Musk’s takeover.

At stake: Violations of the settlement could lead to millions of dollars in fines or even criminal charges against individuals.

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