Commercial Division Blog
Defamation Claim Dismissed Based on Absolute Litigation Privilege
On June 17, 2021, the First Department issued a decision in Lewis v. Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price Hecht LLP, 2021 NY Slip Op. 03911, holding that a defamation claim was barred by the absolute litigation privilege, explaining:
The alleged statements made by defendant Conley in the course of litigation are immune from liability for defamation based on an absolute privilege. Plaintiff failed to show that these statements, made in a motion to dismiss plaintiff's initial New York complaint and after litigation had commenced, were material and pertinent to the questions involved in the litigation. Conley's alleged pre-litigation statements are protected by a qualified privilege. Plaintiff failed to show that Conley did not have a good-faith basis for anticipating that litigation was bound to occur. Accordingly, plaintiff's aiding and abetting defamation claim was properly dismissed.
(Internal quotations and citations omitted).
Civil litigation can involve claims that cause real reputational harm, but not every statement can be the subject of a defamation claim. Contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or a client have questions about whether statements about you or your business can be the basis for a claim for defamation.