Today we have two cases of the day: In re Application of O’Keeffe (S.D. Fla. 2015), and In re Application of O’Keeffe (D.N.J. 2015). The applicant in both cases, Kate O’Keeffe, is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. In 2012, she wrote an article about the casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson, that described him as a “scrappy, foul-mouthed billionaire from working class Dorchester, Mass.” Adelson sued her for libel in Hong Kong, where O’Keeffe is based, alleging that the adjective “foul-mouthed” was false and defamatory.
In Florida, O’Keeffe sought discovery from Nikita Zukov, a Palm Beach architect who, she said, “frequently interacted with Adelson while providing architectural services for a project for Adelson’s company.” O’Keeffee claimed that Zukov may have “personally witnessed Adelson use foul or otherwise offensive language.” Zukov, she said, “was terminated from thep roject after approximately nine months and later prevailed in a brach of contract action” against Adelson’s company. Zukov’s dealings with Adelson were in 1989.
Continue reading § 1782 Applications in Sheldon Adelson’s Libel Suit Against Kate O’Keeffe
The case of the day is Ackelson v. Manley Toys Ltd. (Iowa Ct. App. 2015). The plaintiffs, Tammie Ackelson, Robin Drake, and Heather Miller, sued their employers, Manley Toy Direct LLC, Toy Network LLC, alleging violations of the Iowa Civil Rights Act. They later amended the complaint to add Manley Toys Ltd., and Toy Quest, Ltd., two related entities, both Hong Kong companies without agents for service of process in the United States.
The employees sought to make service on the Hong Kong companies by way of the Hong Kong central authority under the Hague Service Convention. The bailiff’s affidavit stated that the address where he served the documents “was operating (sic) by two companies named Manley Toys Limited and Toy Quest Limited, of which a female staff member, Ms. Lo Ming informed me that the aforesaid address was the registered office of the said party for service.” Looks good! But the two Hong companies moved to quash the service on the grounds that they had no employe or agent named Lo Ming (as far as the decision reveals, they did not claim that service had been made at the wrong address). The trial judge granted the motion, citing a similar decision from the US District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in another case involving the same defendants (but not, apparently, involving the same plaintiffs). I believe that the federal decision at issue was this decision in Rennenger v. Manley Toy Direct LLC (S.D. Iowa 2013), which also featured the mysterious Lo Ming. The employees then sought to make service on the Hong Kong companies’ US counsel under Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.305(14). The trial judge agreed, and the Hong Kong companies took an interlocutory appeal.
Continue reading Case of the Day: Ackelson v. Manley Toys
The case of the day is In re O’Keeffe (D.N.J. 2015). Kate O’Keeffe was a Hong Kong-based reporter for Dow Jones & Co. She wrote an article, published in the US, European, and Asian editions of the Wall Street Journal, that described casino magnate Sheldon Adelson as “foul-mouthed.” Adelson, displaying some pretty thin skin for a billionaire in my opinion, sued O’Keeffe for libel in Hong Kong. O’Keeffe brought an application under § 1782 for leave to serve a subpoena on Kirk A. Thorell, formerly the auditor for one of Adelson’s companies. The WSJ had previously reported that Adelson’s “demeanor” was one of the reasons Thorell’s firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, no longer audited the company. She suggested that Thorell might have information to support her assertion, in her article, that Adelson was “foul-mouthed.” The magistrate judge granted the application ex parte, and Adelson then moved to quash.
Continue reading Case of the Day: In re O’Keeffe