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Former Twitter Execs Sue Elon for More Than $128M in Unpaid Severance

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A quartet of ousted Twitter executives are suing Elon Musk for allegedly sitting on $128 million in severance payments that he owes them after drumming them out of the company amid his takeover in late 2022.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in California’s Northern District on Monday and first reported by The Wall Street Journal, are Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s onetime chief executive; Ned Segal, its chief financial officer; Vijaya Gadde, head of legal and policy; and Sean Edgett, general counsel.

“Under Musk’s control, Twitter has become a scofflaw, stiffing employees, landlords, vendors, and others,” the lawsuit says. “Musk doesn’t pay his bills, believes the rules don’t apply to him, and uses his wealth and power to run roughshod over anyone who disagrees with him.”

The four executives were due to receive a generous severance after Twitter was taken private by Musk, but the suit claims that the billionaire, smarting from having been cornered into buying the company for $44 billion, denied them their packages. Instead, they allege they were told they had committed “gross negligence and willful misconduct” and were fired without further detail in a deliberate ploy to deprive them of their benefits.

“Because Musk decided he didn’t want to pay Plaintiffs’ severance benefits, he simply fired them without reason, then made up fake cause and appointed employees of his various companies to uphold his decision,” the suit states.

Nursing a “special ire,” Musk reportedly “vowed a lifetime of revenge” against them, telling his biographer Walter Isaacson “he would ‘hunt every single one of’ Twitter’s executives and directors ‘till the day they die.’” He crowed to the writer “how he planned to cheat Twitter’s executives out of their severance benefits in order to save himself $200 million,” according to the suit.

“This is the Musk playbook: to keep the money he owes other people, and force them to sue him,” the group alleges. “Even in defeat, Musk can impose delay, hassle, and expense on others less able to afford it.”

The four executives claim they are owed the equivalent of their severance, packages based on one year’s salary, stock awards, and health insurance premiums, according to the suit. They claim their benefits break down to $57 million for Agrawal; $44 million for Segal; $20 million for Gadde; and $6 million for Edgett.

Musk did not immediately comment on Monday’s filing, which comes hours after it was announced that he’d been unseated by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person. Musk’s lawyer did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.

More than two dozen lawsuits have been filed against Twitter for non-payment since Musk took control, including at least two filed by former lower-rank employees, according to a site keeping track of those legal actions.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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