Akiva Cohen

Akiva Cohen



OK, #LitigationDisasterTourists, by popular request (@yesh222 @ariehkovler @crowder and others) let's do a live read. I've got no idea whether what's pled here is viable or not - haven't even read it - but public figure defamation is about the hardest case to prove in US law.

Also, worked opposite Oved & Oved (lead counsel here) and while I had my issues with them, they were standard OC issues, nothing crazy. So I'm really pretty interested to see what this pleading looks like.

Let's start with the caption and identification of parties, because it immediately raises some questions: what in the world is this doing in Missouri? None of the parties are from there, so there's no obvious reason why there'd be jurisdiction there. Also ... oh no

They're alleging that the court has federal question jurisdiction over their Sherman Act claim, which it does.

But they're also alleging diversity jurisdiction - which requires that no parties on opposite sides of the "v" share the same state citizenship. And they haven't alleged ANYONE's state citizenship - just residence, which isn't necessarily the same.

This is probably a non-issue; Niemann is likely both a citizen and resident of CT, and nobody else is likely a citizen of CT while a resident elsewhere. But one of the defendants is an LLC, and those have the citizenship of all the LLC's members

So you need to plead the identity and citizenship of those members, and if any of the members are themselves LLCs, of those members'-members, etc. (That's why they pled the residence of the LLC's members). Courts have been known to call that out and dismiss cases over it.

Again, probably a non-issue. But doesn't inspire confidence

OK, back to the start, let's see what this complaint is about, and what, if anything, each of the defendants is alleged to have done in Missouri.

The complaint starts by talking about who Niemann is, which is a fine strategy. Yes, talking about how famous the client is in a defamation case isn't typically a great move, but that's where there's a chance in hell of avoiding an actual malice standard.

Here, there's no way that's going to happen. Not only is he a general purpose public figure in the chess world, but the events at issue got news coverage and he participated in that public discussion, so he's a limited purpose public figure. You aren't avoiding it, so lean in.

Oooh, there's some personal history here, plus a gratuitous (and probably client satisfying) "and I kicked your ass"

This is a good way to allege that Carlsen knew his accusations were false, which is what they will need to show.

OK, gotta break to deal with some stuff, will be back

Continuing on ... Slight problem for the "the defamation happened in Missouri" theory of jurisdiction - this tournament was played online.

This, if true, will be a key piece of evidence; if Carlsen's poor play rather than Niemann's good play was the key factor in the outcome, it wouldn't be attributable to cheating

OK, yeah, there's effectively zero basis to sue anyone but Carlsen in Missouri. None of the other defendants seem to have any connection to the state that I can tell.

There's effectively only 1 state in which a plaintiff like Neimann can sue defendants from different states who allegedly conspired to defame him from those different states: the state where the plaintiff lives, and where the damages were suffered. So why sue in MO and not CT?

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