News
Hans Niemann's $100 Million Defamation Lawsuit Dismissed
Hans Niemann. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Hans Niemann's $100 Million Defamation Lawsuit Dismissed

PeterDoggers
| 215 | Chess Players

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed GM Hans Niemann's $100 million lawsuit against GMs Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Chess.com, the Play Magnus Group, and IM Daniel Rensch. This means that, at least for the moment, the legal battle that followed cheating allegations toward Niemann, causing a scandal covered by media all over the world, is over.

In his lawsuit filed on October 20, 2022, Niemann against all five entities claimed slander, libel, unlawful group boycott under the Sherman Act, tortious interference with contract and business expectancies, and civil conspiracy. For each cause of action, at least $100 million was claimed.

The judge in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri noted that "counts 3 and 4," both regarding a possible antitrust injury, were dismissed "with prejudice," meaning they cannot be brought again. The other counts were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction but "without prejudice," meaning that the court dismissed federal claims and declined to hear state claims. This leaves the door open for the case to be re-filed in a state court, for instance if new evidence appears.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the attorneys for Niemann, Terrence Oved and Darren Oved, indeed are intending to pursue the defamation claim, among others, in state court.

"We are very pleased with the courts order dismissing Hans Niemann's claims. Our clients are happy to see an end to this saga, and are pleased that all parties can now focus on growing the game of chess," commented Nima H. Mohebbi and Jamie Wine, of Latham and Watkins, the law firm that represented Chess.com, Play Magnus, and Rensch.

"We are pleased the court has rejected Hans Niemann’s attempt to recover an undeserved windfall in Missouri federal court, and that Niemann’s attempt to chill speech through strategic litigation in that forum has failed," said Craig Reiser, a partner at Axinn and an attorney for Carlsen.

Chess.com has requested a comment at Oved & Oved, the law firm that represented Niemann in the case.

"We’re glad to see this ruling. We obviously thought it was a meritless lawsuit that burned a ton of time and money, but we have a stewardship to protect the game. We appreciate our amazing legal team for their diligence and commitment to our cause. Where do we go from here? We remain 100% focused on what we always have been doing: growing the game and serving the community." - Erik and Danny, Chess.com.

In his lawsuit, Niemann had stated that Carlsen, Nakamura, Chess.com, Play Magnus Group, and Rensch had been "egregiously defaming him and unlawfully colluding to blacklist him from the profession to which he has dedicated his life," and that the whole situation has caused "devastating damages." Over the past eight months, the lawsuit was amended twice, but Niemann failed to convince the judge to move to a jury trial.

The lawsuit was part of a big chess cheating scandal in the fall of last year. It all started with Carlsen leaving the 2022 Sinquefield Cup after losing his game to Niemann in the third round, and tweeting a mysterious comment from football trainer Jose Mourinho that went "I prefer, really, not to speak. If I speak, I am in big trouble."

Soon it became clear that Carlsen was accusing Niemann of cheating, but the question on everyone's mind was, how. The case got worldwide attention, with global media coverage for weeks on end, when Elon Musk tweeted about the outlandish theory that had been suggested in a stream by Chessbrah GM Eric Hansen: that Niemann might have used anal beads.

In an interview during the Sinquefield Cup, Niemann admitted that he had cheated as a kid when playing on Chess.com. The chess platform then published a 72-page report, shared ahead of publication with The Wall Street Journal, which claimed that Niemann had "likely cheated in more than 100 online chess games, including several prize money events." Niemann has denied these allegations, and says he never cheated more than he admitted to, or in any games over the board.

Niemann filed his lawsuit on October 20 and amended it a month later. On December 3, Chess.com formally requested the court to dismiss. A few days later, Nakamura did the same, after which Niemann issued a second amendment. A full history of the case, including all relevant documents in PDF, can be found at CourtListener.


Earlier coverage:

PeterDoggers
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by Chess.com in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!


Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

Email: peter@chess.com FOR SUPPORT PLEASE USE chess.com/support!
Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
Address: 877 E 1200 S #970397, Orem, UT 84097

More from PeterDoggers
Yakubboev Wins UzChess Cup On Tiebreaks Ahead Of Abdusattorov

Yakubboev Wins UzChess Cup On Tiebreaks Ahead Of Abdusattorov

Niemann Secures Funds For $1 Million Buy-In Tournament

Niemann Secures Funds For $1 Million Buy-In Tournament