WASHINGTON (JTA) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Jewish Democrats may countersue casino magnate Sheldon Adelson now that lower courts have dismissed his libel lawsuit against them.
Adelson had sued the National Jewish Democratic Council in 2012 over an online petition alleging the Republican donor allowed prostitution at his casino in Macau. The petition included a hyperlink to an article in the Associated Press carrying allegations against Adelson; much of the legal argument since then was over whether attaching a hyperlink is a clear enough signal that the defendants were citing available information.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District, based in New York, said Adelson failed to show that his targets knew their claim against him was false. The ruling affirmed a decision by a lower court to dismiss Adelson’s lawsuit.
The linked Associated Press article reported on a lawsuit by a former employee of Adelson. It alleged that the employee was terminated for, among other reasons, refusing to allow prostitutes to ply their trade at the casino. Adelson has since reportedly settled with the former employee, Steve Jacobs, with a $75 million payout.
The latest ruling allows the NJDC to countersue under Nevada’s famously tough statue meant to discourage attempts to prevent frivolous libel lawsuits. Such anti-SLAPP statutes (short for strategic lawsuit against public participation), which vary state by state, allow targets of lawsuits to countersue should a court dismiss a libel lawsuit.
The targets of Adelson’s original lawsuit, the NJDC and its former chairman, Marc Stanley, and president, David Harris, have not yet decided whether to exercise their right to countersue, Stanley said in an email to JTA.