Collecting a Libel Tourist’s Defamation Judgment?

18 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2009 Last revised: 20 Nov 2009

See all articles by Doug Rendleman

Doug Rendleman

Washington and Lee University - School of Law

Date Written: November 18, 2009


A libel plaintiff sued an American defendant in a foreign nation where he took advantage of plaintiff-favoring defamation law to obtain a hefty judgment. He brings this judgment to the defendant’s State in the United States to collect from her bank account. The defendant’s State’s court could not have entered the plaintiff’s judgment because of First-Amendment doctrines that stem from New York Times v. Sullivan.

How should the United States court respond to the “libel tourist” and his judgment? My succinct article summarizes the tangled tale that emerges. Invoking a public policy exception to comity, United States courts have rejected foreign-nation defamation judgments. State legislation has buttressed these decisions. A Bill has been introduced in Congress to repel these judgments at the water’s edge. Against this tide, my article maintains that courts in the United States ought to take a more nuanced approach and recognize at least some overseas defamation judgments.

This draft article is in press at the Washington and Lee Law Review and at the Faculty of Law, Aix-Provence, France. It will undergo the usual editorial processes. The draft that follows was presented to the Remedies Discussion Forum at the Faculty of Law, Aix-Provence in the spring of 2009.

Suggested Citation

Rendleman, Doug, Collecting a Libel Tourist’s Defamation Judgment? (November 18, 2009). Washington and Lee Law Review, Forthcoming; Washington & Lee Legal Studies Paper No. 2009-13. Available at SSRN:

Doug Rendleman (Contact Author)

Washington and Lee University - School of Law ( email )

Lexington, VA 24450
United States

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