The High Stakes of Musk’s $500M Severance Battle

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Musk $500M Severance Fight

In a high-stakes legal battle that could redefine severance obligations, a California federal court has put a temporary halt to the discovery process in a case involving X (formerly known as Twitter). The company is accused of failing to pay $500 million in severance following the layoffs triggered by Elon Musk’s acquisition. This pause comes as the court considers a potentially game-changing motion to dismiss the case altogether.

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A Strategic Pause Amid Legal Wrangling

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Illman ruled in favor of X and Musk, granting their request to stay discovery. This decision aligns with the defendants’ argument that the January motion to dismiss might render further proceedings unnecessary. Judge Illman emphasized that the motion does not need to definitively resolve the case but must merely show potential to do so.

In March, X and Musk contended that halting the discovery process was justified since their motion to dismiss described the severance claims as “fantastical,” disputing the existence of any formal severance plan. The plaintiffs, Courtney McMillian and Ronald Cooper, responded on April 5, suggesting that the request to pause discovery was merely a tactic to delay legal proceedings. This strategy, they argued, mirrored the defense’s approach in several other ongoing lawsuits.

Musk $500M Severance Fight : The Core of the Conflict

The dispute dates back to July when McMillian filed a lawsuit alleging X did not fulfill its severance promises to employees who were let go after Musk’s $44 billion takeover in 2022. According to the complaint, the company offered affected employees a maximum of three months’ compensation, partially adhering to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, but allegedly failed to complete these payments.