Sheldon Adelson

The thin-skinned Sheldon Adelson. Credit: Bectrigger

I’ve written several times about the Hong Kong libel suit brought by the thin-skinned Sheldon Adelson against Wall Street Journal reporter Kate O’Keefe, who wrote an article describing Adelson as “foul-mouthed.” The case gave rise to some § 1782 litigation in which O’Keeffe sought (and received) permission to take discovery from people who, she said, could provide evidence of the truth of what she had written. I don’t know whether the § 1782 discovery led to useful information, but in any event, the case has now been settled.

According to the report, no money changed hands in the settlement. This is a win, of course, for O’Keeffe. But she (or rather, the Wall Street Journal) bears her own litigation expenses, which probably add up to a tidy sum. That, of course, is the point of over-the-top libel suits like this. In the current political climate, it’s important that § 1782 remain available to libel defendants when a US plaintiff chooses to bring a libel case in a plaintiff-friendly forum: we cannot underestimate the chilling effect of this kind of litigation.