In an August 4 ruling, federal judge M. Casey Rodgers transferred a $50 million copyright lawsuit filed by Donald Trump against bestselling author Bob Woodward and publisher Simon & Schuster from Pensacola, Florida to the Southern District of New York. And in a parting shot, Casey all but accused the former president of "forum shopping" for initially filing the case in northern Florida—a term used to describe the practice of litigants seeking to sue in a court they believe to be favorable to their case.

First filed in January (and amended on April 24), the suit accuses Woodward and S&S of breaching Trump's copyright interests by publishing voice recordings of the former president in an audiobook, The Trump Tapes: The Historical Record. The suit claims the interviews, initially recorded by by Woodward for his 2021 book Rage, are "protected material" and seeks a declaratory judgment acknowledging Trump's "full copyright interest" in the recordings, as well as "compensatory, punitive damages, and disgorgement" of "at least $49,980,000."

In ordering the case transferred, Casey did not rule on a bid to dismiss the lawsuit outright (which lawyers for Woodward and S&S had also argued for in motions filed in early April), instead punting that question to New York to be decided. But she agreed with the plaintiffs the case was filed in the wrong jurisdiction and, in a footnote, rebuked the former president.

"Although the Court doesn’t find it necessary to expressly hold that Mr. Trump was forum shopping, the fact that he chose to bring suit in a district without any connection to the action and hundreds of miles from Mar-a-Lago (despite that one of the in-person Interviews was conducted there) strongly suggests forum shopping," Casey wrote, pointing out that the case landed in her courtroom around the time Judge Donald Middlebrooks hit Trump and his lawyers with more than $937,000 in sanctions for filing a meritless lawsuit against Hillary Clinton in the Southern District of New York. Casey points out that Middlebrooks called out Trump in his sanctions for "repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries” and declared the case brought by Trump against Clinton "completely frivolous, both factually and legally," and "brought in bad faith for an improper purpose."

In seeking to dismiss Trump's copyright case, lawyers for Woodward and S&S argue that Woodward is the proper author of the interviews, and that because the interviews were conducted while Trump was acting in his official capacity as president he holds no copyright interest in the interviews.

The suit is the latest in a string of questionable legal battles undertaken against against publishers by Trump, many involving S&S.

In 2020, Trump's Department of Justice unsuccessfully sued to block former national security adviser John Bolton’s S&S-published memoir, The Room Where It Happened. The book would go on to become a bestseller and after a year of litigation, the DOJ eventually dropped subsequent criminal and civil lawsuits against Bolton.

A month later, in July 2020, Trump unsuccessfully sued S&S and his niece, author Mary Trump, in New York state court seeking to block publication of her memoir Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. The book would go on to sell more than a million copies.