TO SEARCH this database type in a key word or phrase in the box in the upper left and any material containing the word or phrase will be displayed for your review.

State of New York vs. COVID-19 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo periodically updates New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The latest reports of the number of new cases, the percentage of tests that were positive and many other relevant data points concerning COVID-19 are available at

N.B. §22 of the New York State's General Construction Law, in pertinent part, provides that “Whenever words of the masculine or feminine gender appear in any law, rule or regulation, unless the sense of the sentence indicates otherwise, they shall be deemed to refer to both male or female persons.” NYPPL applies this protocol to individuals referred to in a decision self-identifying as LGBTQA+.

February 27, 2014

The doctrine of Absolute Privileged attaches to an allegedly defamatory memorandum published in the context of ongoing litigation

The doctrine of Absolute Privileged attaches to an allegedly defamatory memorandum published in the context of ongoing litigation
2013 NY Slip Op 52290(U), Court of Claims [Not selected for publication in the Official Reports]

An individual [Petitioner] who worked at a state correctional facility filed a claim “sounding in defamation per se” alleging that an article appeared in the print and the on-line versions of a newspaper included statements attributed to a State official that disparaged Petitioner.

Eventually it was determined that alleged defamatory statements were made by a state employee and had been “acquired by a non-State actor,” which person gave it to one of the newspaper’s reporters.

According to the decision, an Assistant Attorney General involved in the instant matter provided a copy of the employee’s memorandum to an attorney, apparently the alleged “non-State actor,” involved in a related matter then pending in federal court.

The Court of Claims “assumed without deciding” that Petitioner’s proposed amended claim satisfied the threshold jurisdictional requirements of being timely filing and served within the relevant statute of limitations and that it satisfies the substantive pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act §11(b).

The court then denied Petitioner’s motion to amend his claim explaining that the alleged tortious conduct — the Assistant Attorney General’s “publication (or republication) of the [State employee’s] memorandum to [the attorney in the federal action] is not actionable because it was absolutely privileged,”* as “Statements made in the course of judicial proceedings are absolutely privileged … and absolute privilege will attach if the allegedly defamatory statements were ‘pertinent’ to the questions involved in the judicial proceeding.”

Further, explained the court, "Whether a statement is at all pertinent . . . is determined by an extremely liberal test" and  "To be actionable, a statement . . . must be so outrageously out of context as to permit one to conclude, from the mere fact that the statement was uttered, that it was motivated by no other desire than to defame."

As the Court of Appeals held in Youmans v Smith, 153 NY 214, “The purpose of the absolute privilege afforded to communications made in the course of judicial proceedings is well established and clearly stated: the due process of ‘clients should not be imperiled by subjecting their legal advisers to the constant fear of suits for libel or slander.’"

Accordingly, said the court, the Assistant Attorney General’s actions in turning over the allegedly defamatory memorandum in the context of ongoing litigation are entitled to the absolute privileged, provided that the alleged defamatory statements were pertinent to the litigation, which, in this instance, the court found were so pertinent.

* The Court of Claims noted that "Absolute privilege has been recognized in a very few situations where there is an obvious policy in favor of permitting complete freedom of expression, without any inquiry as to the defendant's motives.” However, in Amato v. Welsh, 2013 ONCA 258, a decision handed down by Canada’s Court of Appeals for Ontario, suggests an exception to the doctrine. The Amato decision suggests that it may be possible for a court to find that the doctrine of absolute immunity yields to the attorney’s duty of loyalty to a client [see paragraphs 61 et seq. set out in the decision].

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


Public Personnel Law E-books

The Discipline Book - A concise guide to disciplinary actions involving public employees in New York State set out in a 700 page e-book. For more information click on

A Reasonable Disciplinary Penalty Under the Circumstances - A 442-page e-book focusing on determining an appropriate disciplinary penalty to be imposed on an employee in the public service in instances where the employee has been found guilty of misconduct or incompetence. Now available in two formats - as a large, paperback print edition and as an e-book. Click on for more information.

The Layoff, Preferred List and Reinstatement Manual - A 645 page e-book reviewing the relevant laws, rules and regulations, and selected court and administrative decisions. For more information click on

Disability Leave for fire, police and other public sector personnel - A 1098 page e-book focusing on disability benefits available to public officers and employees employed by New York State and its political subdivisions. For more information click on