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Tesla Board Member Vows Defamation Action

By William Vogeler, Esq. on November 17, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Every lawyer knows that defamation cases are hard to win -- especially if your client is a public figure.

You have to get over the First Amendment, New York Times v. Sullivan, and all those privileges you learned in law school. Even if you can prove actual malice, the ultimate question is damages.

"It's not about the money," some clients say. But let's face it, some lawsuits are just not worth it.

"Predatory Behavior"

Steve Jurvetson, a Tesla board member, could be one of those clients. He is a partner at a major Silicon Valley venture capital firm, and left the company amidst accusations of sexual harassment.

"I am leaving DFJ to focus on personal matters, including taking legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me," he said on Twitter.

It's too early to tell, but it looks like he has already identified a defendant. Keri Kukral, chief executive officer of Raw Science, posted a disparaging comment about Jurvetson's firm on Facebook.

"Women approached by a founding partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful," she wrote. "Predatory behavior is rampant."

Damages Question

In his own Facebook post, Jurvetson said he left his firm because of a break-down in a "normal team dynamic" with his partners.

"It's incredibly sad to see how things broke down, and the acrimony that arose between us," he wrote.

Ultimately, he said, an investigation required they "defer to the advice of lawyers."

If Jurvetson pursues his defamation case, the facts may not be pretty. And when it comes to damages, his attorney will have to deal with the statement that he left because of a partnership dispute.

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