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Hans Niemann is suing multiple people for defamation (full complaint):

screenshot of the claim

Among the defendants, Norwegian Magnus Carlsen is listed. I don't get how this is possible: they're two separate countries with separate legal systems, and Missouri's legal system is not a recognized authority in Norway. It seems like Carlsen could just ignore it without problems (unless he goes to the USA, or Missouri), unless there's some kind of international treaty I'm unaware of.

Question: How can Magnus Carlsen (from Norway) be sued for defamation by Hans Niemann in Missouri?

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  • Please do not include images of text here. Convert them to actual text, or link to the original source instead. Jan 28 at 21:04

3 Answers 3

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It is not required that you sue each defendant in their own courts. Two of the defendants are natural persons living in the US (Utah, Florida), one is a US company (Utah and California), one is a Norwegian company, and one is a Norwegian natural person. This is one case, not five unrelated cases. If the court find against Carlsen, the plaintiff would need to go to Norwegian courts to enforce the claim. This is helped by the Norwegian Enforcement Act of 26 June 1992, the Dispute Act of 17 June 2005 and the Arbitration Act of 14 May 2004, which basically say that if you're found liable for a tort in US courts, you can collect via the Norwegian courts. Here is a more detailed analysis of the Norwegian legal situation. It is possible that under Norwegian law the US judgment against Carlsen would be reduced, depending on how big the award is.

The suit involves, in part 15 USC Ch. 1 (antitrust law) where the US has asserted jurisdiction if there is a nexus to the United States (not just American companies), and under 28 USC 1367, plaintiff asserts that federal courts have supplementary jurisdiction over the state claims.

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  • what's the norwegian company? play magnus?
    – BCLC
    Dec 6, 2022 at 7:40
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For such a suit to be maintained, the courts of the state where the suit is brought (the forum state) must assert jurisdiction over the defendants. This happens routinely and often. It does not require that the defendants be residents of the forum state. It merely requires that the law of the forum state allows such an assertion.

In most US states such jurisdiction is allowed if a defendant has "sufficient connection" with the forum state. Exactly what constitutes a "sufficient connection" varies, but the bar is usually fairly low. Doing remote business in the state is usually enough, and other action will suffice. In this case the plaintiff alleges that the defendant made false and defamatory statement about the plaintiff, that were published in the forum state. This is more than sufficient to support jurisdiction in any US state, and any other country that I know enough about the law of to come to a conclusion on the matter. There is no problem in bringing such a suit lawfully.

However, when a defendant is not a citizen of the same country as the forum court, there may be a problem in collecting damages, if any are awarded. The forum court probably does not have direct personal authority over the defendant. If the defendant does business in the forum, the court can seize assets to satisfy a judgement. The forum court can ask an appropriate court in the defendant's home country to enforce a judgement. Such a court may or may not do so, there is no automatic or universal rule. There may be other ways to collect on such a judgement. It depends on the specifics of the case.

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Because Missouri has jurisdiction

It’s alleged that Mr Carlsen defamed Mr Niemann while competing in an online tournament organised by the St Louis Chess Club. St Louis is in Missouri.

The plaintiff in a defamation suit can commence action anywhere that the defamatory statement was published and their reputation was damaged. In this case that it pretty much everywhere - I haven’t played chess for more than 30 years and even I have heard about this matter. However, the court has to decide they are the most appropriate court to hear the case. The courts in Missouri probably are given the nexus in St Louis. Courts in Azerbaijan probably aren’t. Other contenders would be California where the plaintiff lives or Norway where one of the primary defendants lives.

Like any defendant, Mr Carlsen can choose to participate in the suit or ignore it, however, ignoring it would be unwise. Mr Carlsen can raise arguments that the Missouri court does not have jurisdiction; this would likely fail.

Assuming the case proceeds to judgement and damages are assessed against Mr Carlsen the Missouri judgement can be taken to the relevant Norwegian court for enforcement. Courts in Norway (as elsewhere) have the power to enforce foreign judgements if they are for a wrong that would give rise to damages in Norway and enforcement is in the public interest. Enforcement of foreign judgements is pretty much routine so the Norwegian court would almost certainly allow it and Mr Carlsen’s assets would be seized under Norwegian law to settle the debt that exists under Missouri law.

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    It wasn't online. See para 6 of the complaint, "On September 4, 2022, Niemann soundly defeated Carlsen during an in-person game at the prestigious Sinquefield Cup chess tournament in St. Louis, Missouri."
    – Rick
    Oct 21, 2022 at 8:02
  • "The plaintiff in a defamation suit can commence action anywhere that the defamatory statement was published and their reputation was damaged." Anywhere it was published, regardless of whether the defendant participated in it being published? Oct 22, 2022 at 4:48
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    @Acccumulation the defendant is always the publisher
    – Dale M
    Oct 22, 2022 at 5:05
  • Your use of passive voice implies that if Carlsen says "Niemann cheated", and then a newspaper in Missouri publishes Carlsen's statement, that gives Missouri jurisdiction. Oct 22, 2022 at 17:26

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