Rachel Ehrenfeld , the author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed—and How to Stop It , filed suit against Khalid Salim A Bin Mahfouz , to prevent him from enforcing an English libel judgment in New York State.
Ehrenfeld 's book alleged that Mahfouz , a successful Saudi Arabian businessman, and his family, had provided financial support to Al Qaeda , and other Islamic terrorist groups. While the book was only released in the United States, 23 copies were sold in the United Kingdom as a result of Internet sales, and a single chapter of the book had been posted on the ABCNews.com website.
Ehrenfeld chose not to appear in that case and two default judgments were entered against her and her publisher. The judgments enjoined Ehrenfeld from publishing defamatory material -- including her book -- in England and Wales, declared the "defamatory" statements false, awarded monetary damages to Mahfouz and his sons, and required Ehrenfeld to issue a letter of public apology.
Ehrenfeld later asked the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to find the statements nonlibelous and the English judgments unenforceable in the United States. Mahfouz countered with a motion seeking dismissal of the Southern District case for lack of jurisdiction.
The District Court held that Mahfouz 's New York contacts -- which consisted of service of process for the English action, and an accessible website -- were insufficient to confer jurisdiction over his person.
On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit certified the jurisdictional question to the New York State Court of Appeals which agreed that Mahfouz had not availed himself of the privileges and benefits of New York's laws, and, found his contacts to be incidental to the English litigation. ( Mahfouz neither conducted business in New York nor invoked the protection of our state's laws.)
Even though Ehrenfeld claimed that the English judgments affected her ability to write freely under the First Amendment, and she believed certain publishers now viewed her as a liability, our state's highest court noted that the ripple effects of the English litigation had been caused by Ehrenfeld 's own conduct, rather than by Mahfouz 's actions.
As of result of that analysis, in a decision dated March 3, 2008, the Second Circuit affirmed the case's dismissal.
Is that cold, or what?Ehrenfeld v. Bin Mahfouz
To download a copy of the Second Circuit's decision, please use this link: Ehrenfeld v. Bin Mahfouz