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Why John Oliver v. Murray Defamation Case Was Remanded to State Court

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

In the Robert Murray v. John Oliver case, the recent decision to remand the case back to state court is making headlines. However, those headlines and articles tend to focus on what's happening, and all the comedic language, rather than the strategy behind it all.

Despite the careful analysis of the court's decision to remand, there is very little about why HBO's attorneys tried to remove the case to federal court.

When it comes to defamation claims, is it better to be in state or federal court?

It Depends on Who You Ask

Some lawyers prefer federal court, while others prefer state court. When it comes to large corporations, being in federal court is generally preferred as the attorneys for large corporations may not necessarily be licensed in a particular state, nor familiar with local rules and procedures. Local attorneys will often want to stay in federal court if the opposing counsel are not local.

However, if you're defending a defamation claim, you'd probably be better off in federal court, rather than a state court, for one big reason: lower damages awards. Federal courts tend to award lower damages than state courts. Strategically, there are several good reasons for and against removal, it really just depends on what side you are on.

Juicy Dicta in John Oliver's Case

The case against John Oliver just keeps on delivering some of the most fantastic lines. For those that may not know, the court actually provided a footnote explaining the pop-culture reference to Dr. Evil. The footnote explains that he is a character from the Austin Powers movies, and even goes so far as to explain that the character, and his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, is a parody of a James Bond villain.

The motion to remand was eventually granted on the basis that both HBO and Murray's companies are both headquartered in Delaware, and that Murray's companies were properly joined as plaintiffs. The court thus determined that there is no diversity jurisdiction, which was what HBO relied upon to remove to federal court in the first place.

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