Monday, December 17, 2012

N.Y. App. Court Applies 'Horse Sense'; Reinstates Libel Claim

Appellate Division of the New York State Supre...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In LeBlanc v. Skinner et al (Case No. 2011-03120), the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division Second Judicial Department last week unanimously reversed a trial court's dismissal of a defamation claim brought by a businessperson against a former town supervisor.

In a 12-page decision written by Judge Jeffrey A. Cohen, the appellate court said David LeBlanc need not prove damages against defendants Wayne Skinner and his spouse, Karen Skinner, who purportedly in an online post, alleged that LeBlanc had tossed a severed horse's head into a local politician's swimming pool. At least in The Godfather, author Mario Puzo had the good taste to confine a severed horse's head to the bedroom.

The trial judge tossed the defamation claim because the plaintiff failed to show he sustained monetary loss because of the alleged offending statement. "[P]roof of harm does not need to be shown if the comments concern a criminal offense or matters harming a person's business or profession," Judge Cohen wrote. "When any of these types of statements are involved, damage to the plaintiff's reputation is presumed."

Kudos to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press ( for reporting on this decision.

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