Thursday, July 26, 2012

A false statement of fact is a necessary element in proving a cause of action alleging defamation


A false statement of fact is a necessary element in proving a cause of action alleging defamation
Goldberg v Levine, 2012 NY Slip Op 05613, Appellate Division, Second Department

Supreme Court dismissed Barry Goldberg’s petition seeking to recover damages for alleged defamation based upon certain written and oral statements allegedly made about him by the Steven Levine at town board meetings and in a local newspaper. Goldberg appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling, explaining that in determining whether a complaint states a cause of action to recover damages for defamation, “the dispositive inquiry” is whether a reasonable listener or reader could have concluded that the statements were conveying facts about the complaining party.

Falsity, said the court, is a necessary element in a defamation cause of action and only facts are capable of being proven false. Accordingly, it follows that “only statements alleging facts can properly be the subject of a defamation action.”

Characterizing certain of Levine’s statements that Goldberg alleged were made at Town Board meetings and in a local newspaper as “rhetorical hyperbole” and expressions of “individual opinion,” the court said “accepting these allegations in [Goldberg’s] complaint as true … they fail to state a cause of action to recover damages for defamation.”

The Appellate Division also observed that “the documentary evidence submitted by [Levine] demonstrated that the Levine's statements … were substantially true” and  "Truth is an absolute defense to an action based on defamation."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

Caution:

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.

THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that the publisher is not providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader should seek such advice from a competent professional.

Items published in NYPPL may not be used for commercial purposes without prior written permission to copy and distribute such material. Send your request via e-mail to publications@nycap.rr.com

Copyright© 1987 - 2017 by the Public Employment Law Press.



___________________



N.B. From time to time a political ad or endorsement may appear in the sidebar of this Blog. NYPPL does not have any control over such posting.

_____________________

.