Tesla Shareholder’s Legal Team Seeks $1.44 Billion in Fees for Musk Pay Case

  • 🧑‍⚖️ The legal team of Tesla shareholder Richard Tornetta has adjusted their plaintiff fee request to $1.44 billion for the Musk pay case.
  • 📅 This adjustment comes after the January rescindment of Elon Musk’s 2018 CEO Performance Award by Judge Kathaleen McCormick.
  • 💼 Tornetta’s legal team initially requested over 29 million TSLA shares, valued at over $5 billion.
  • 🕵️‍♀️ Tesla disputes the request, claiming the legal team should be paid about $13.6 million.
  • 🔢 Tornetta’s legal team proposed a cash-based alternative, suggesting a recalculated rate of $73,948 per hour.
  • 📉 This adjusted rate would result in a $1.44 billion payment instead of their original share-based request.
  • ⚖️ Tornetta’s lawyers highlighted that an inflation-adjusted hourly rate from a similar case supports their current fee request.
  • 🏛️ Tesla has argued that the valuation of the legal team’s work should be significantly lower, leading to ongoing legal contention.

The legal battle between Tesla shareholder Richard Tornetta and Elon Musk continues to make waves in the financial and tech worlds. As the case progresses, Tornetta’s legal team has adjusted their fee request, drawing considerable attention due to the substantial sums involved. In this blog post, we dive deep into this ongoing legal dispute, exploring the key details, implications, and perspectives on the matter.

Background of the Case

In 2018, Richard Tornetta, a Tesla shareholder, filed a legal complaint against Elon Musk’s CEO Performance Award. The award, which was valued at $55 billion, became a notable issue when Judge Kathaleen McCormick of the Delaware Court of Chancery rescinded it in January 2024. The rescindment of this historic compensation package paved the way for Tornetta’s legal team to claim substantial fees for their efforts.

The Initial Fee Request

Initially, Tornetta’s legal team sought compensation in the form of over 29 million TSLA shares, valued at over $5 billion. This request translates to an astonishing rate of over $200,000 per hour. However, this bold move faced significant scrutiny and resistance from Tesla.

Tesla’s Counterargument

Tesla has firmly disputed Tornetta’s legal team’s request, arguing that they should be paid around $13.6 million, a far cry from the billions initially sought. Tesla’s stance is based on their own valuation of the legal efforts involved, deeming the $200,000 per hour rate as excessively inflated.

The Adjusted Fee Request

Recognizing the contentious nature of their initial request, Tornetta’s legal team has proposed a revised fee structure. They suggested a recalculated hourly rate of $73,948, resulting in a cash-based fee of approximately $1.44 billion. This adjustment reflects an alternative approach, aiming to address concerns about the original share-based request.

Justification for the New Rate

To support their revised fee, Tornetta’s lawyers pointed to an inflation-adjusted hourly rate from a precedent-setting case known as Southern Peru. In that case, the court had awarded legal fees at a rate that, when adjusted for inflation, justified their current $73,948 per hour request.

Implications of the Revised Fee Request

  • Legal Precedents: The reference to the Southern Peru case establishes a context for understanding the legal justification behind Tornetta’s team’s revised fee. This aspect underscores the complexities of high-stakes legal battles in corporate law.
  • Financial Impact: The proposed $1.44 billion payment is still substantial and reflects the high financial stakes involved in corporate governance and executive compensation disputes.
  • Tesla’s Position: Tesla continues to argue for a significantly lower fee valuation, highlighting the ongoing legal contention and the complexity of determining fair compensation for legal services in such high-profile cases.

The Path Forward for Tornetta vs. Musk

As the case progresses, the Delaware Court’s decision will be pivotal in determining the outcome of this fee dispute. Whether the court sides with Tornetta’s legal team or Tesla, the ruling will likely set important legal precedents for future cases involving executive compensation and shareholder litigation.

Key Takeaways

  1. Initial Request: Tornetta’s legal team initially sought compensation in TSLA shares valued at over $5 billion.
  2. Tesla’s Response: Tesla disputes the request, suggesting a fair payment of $13.6 million.
  3. Adjusted Request: The legal team proposed an alternative fee of $73,948 per hour, resulting in a $1.44 billion cash payment.
  4. Legal Justification: The revised fee is supported by inflation-adjusted rates from a previous high-profile case.
  5. Future Implications: The court’s decision will set a precedent for future cases involving executive pay and shareholder litigation.


The Tornetta vs. Musk case encapsulates the intricate dynamics of corporate governance, executive compensation, and the legal intricacies that accompany such disputes. As we await the court’s ruling, it’s clear that this case will leave a lasting impact on how similar legal battles are approached in the future.

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