Libel tourism: Mississippi v. Nova Scotia

Persons upset about posts on the Mississippi blog “slabbed.org” sued for defamation in Nova Scotia (some of the content related to a lodge owned there by a Mississippi resident).  After obtaining a default judgment, they sought to domesticate it in Mississippi; the defendant removed and resisted domestication under the SPEECH Act, 28 U.S.C. § 4102.  Trout Point Lodge v. Handshoe, No. 13-60002 (Sept. 5, 2013).  That law, enacted in 2010, intends to prevent “libel tourism” by plaintiffs who obtain judgments in jurisdictions with less protection of speech than the First Amendment. The Court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to meet its burden under the Act to prove either (1) that Canadian law (which allocates the burden to prove falsity differently than American law) offers as much free speech protection as Mississippi, or (2) a Mississippi court reviewing the allegations of the pleading would have found liability for defamation.  The Court found some of the pleading’s allegations conclusory and that others involved language that “[t]hough offensive . . . are not actionable . . . .”

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