Trout Point Lodge v. Handshoe
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
729 F.3d 481 (5th Cir. 2014)
Doug Handshoe (defendant), a Mississippi resident, was an Internet blogger. Trout Point Lodge was a hotel in Nova Scotia, Canada. Aaron Broussard was a parish president from Louisiana who owned property near Trout Point Lodge. Broussard had been indicted in Louisiana for bribery and theft, and Handshoe posted a number of blog entries linking Trout Point Lodge and its owners (plaintiffs) to Broussard’s crimes. In addition to linking Trout Point Lodge to the Broussard scandal, the blog entries made many offensive statements about the owners, including: (1) the use of anti-gay slurs and rhetoric, (2) claims that the owners had “champagne taste on a beer budget,” and (3) claims that the owners were “foolish and frivolous.” Trout Point Lodge brought a defamation suit in the Nova Scotia Court, arguing that Handshoe’s blog entries were “defamatory by both true and false innuendo.” Trout Point Lodge’s complaint did not demonstrate with specificity what parts of or how the blog entries may have been false. Under Nova Scotia law, a defamation plaintiff need not prove falsity. The Nova Scotia Court entered default judgment in Trout Point Lodge’s favor. Trout Point Lodge attempted to collect its damages by enrolling the judgment in the Circuit Court of Hancock, Mississippi. Handshoe removed the case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi and objected to its recognition of the Nova Scotia judgment. The district court granted Handshoe summary judgment. Trout Point Lodge appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Elrod, J.)
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