Case of the Day: O’Keeffe v. Adelson
Posted on September 19, 2016
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.”
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?