Wayne M. Serra


This paper will explore the libel-proof plaintiff doctrine and examine it in light of traditional standing and jurisdictional principles. Part II of this paper discusses the origin of the libel-proof doctrine and its application. Part III explores the general requirements for diversity actions in the federal district courts, the application of state law to those actions, and the impact of the First Amendment on state libel law. Part IV discusses standing to sue principles and analyzes the libel-proof plaintiff doctrine in light of those principles. Part V discusses some criticisms of the libel-proof plaintiff doctrine. Finally, Part VI concludes that because the doctrine is not defensible on either standing or jurisdictional grounds, it is probably best to dispose of individual claims using traditional principles where available, rather than branding a particular plaintiff as incapable of being libeled as a matter of law.