Case of the Day: O’Keeffe v. Adelson

Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson. Credit: Bectrigger

The case of the day is O’Keeffe v. Adelson (11th Cir. 2016). This is the appeal from In re Application of O’Keeffe (S.D. Fla. 2015), which I covered. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson sued Wall Street Journal reporter Kate O’Keeffee in Hong Kong for defamation after she described him as a “scrappy, foul-mouthed billionaire from working class Dorchester, Mass.”

Han Solo

In the prior case, the court granted O’Keeffe’s application under § 1782 for leave to take discovery from Nikita Zukov, who, she thought, might have personal experience with Adelson that could show he was, in fact, foul-mouthed. The court also denied Adelson’s motion to quash. (My prior post dealt with the magistrate judge’s decision, which had granted Adelson’s motion; the district judge came to the opposite conclusion). Adelson appealed.

The appeal did not have much heft; the main argument, according to the opinion, was that O’Keeffe’s request was “an improper ‘fishing expedition’ based entirely on speculation.” But

As the district court explained in its April 26, 2016 order, however, O’Keeffe’s request is not based on speculation, but rather upon her counsel’s personal conversations with Zukov, in which he indicated that he personally witnessed, and had a clear memory of, Adelson using foul language during their business interactions.

Adelson also argued that the evidence sought was irrelevant, but given the nature of the claim that is obviously not so.

Given the weakness of the appeal and the nature of the allegations, it’s fair to ask about the good faith of the litigation. What is Adelson’s motive, other than the obvious?

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

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