Washington, D.C. – The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a writ of certiorari by Chinese company BYD Company Ltd. in its meritless libel lawsuit targeting the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and several of its employees.
BYD’s failed litigation strategy began in November 2020, when Beverly Hills-based celebrity libel attorney Charles Harder and his firm filed suit in the U.S. District Court against AAM and three employees with families, including young children. The U.S. District Court rejected BYD’s litigation attempt three times, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed BYD’s appeal of the district court’s final decision on May 10, 2022.
BYD then appealed to the Supreme Court. Chinese-based BYD, with a 2021 annual revenue of $33.48 billion, had virtually unlimited resources to pursue its meritless litigation strategy as far as it could take it.
While Washington, D.C. has an anti-SLAPP law in place to deter lawsuits filed to intimidate groups and individuals exercising their First Amendment rights, it does not apply to cases filed in federal court, even when the claims concern D.C. law. This loophole should be addressed to protect advocacy organizations like AAM that operate in the District of Columbia.
AAM helped lead advocacy efforts to enact the Transportation Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act (TIVSA), which was signed into law in December 2019 as part of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. TIVSA bans federal tax dollars from being used to purchase rail cars or buses from foreign state-owned or controlled companies like BYD, which manufactures buses for the U.S. market. TIVSA enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and Senate, was signed into law by President Trump, and is being implemented by the Biden administration.
Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul said:
“We are pleased that this meritless lawsuit saga has come to a decisive end. Whatever BYD’s motivations to file the suit, they failed spectacularly. TIVSA is fully enacted, AAM’s manufacturing agenda has only gained momentum, and our determination to ensure that foreign state-owned or controlled companies aren’t capturing tax dollars, jobs, and market share at American producers’ expense is undeterred.
“Moving ahead, it would be helpful for policymakers to work to close the loophole that allows for these types of nuisance cases to move ahead in federal court, despite the anti-SLAPP law in place in D.C. Small nonprofits simply doing their work shouldn’t be put at existential risk by meritless lawsuits filed by massive foreign entities or domestic corporations who face no repercussions.
“I’d like to thank the team at Kelley Drye & Warren for their able and successful counsel in this case. Now, I’m looking forward to refocusing AAM’s full attention on strengthening American manufacturing and creating good jobs.”