Trump, Russians, Libel, and "Attempting Insult of American Laws & Freedom"

OK, not quite what it sounds like ....

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From Trump Village Section 4, Inc. v. Bezvoleva, decided today by a New York intermediate appellate court—the lead plaintiff is an apartment complex built by and named after President Trump's father:

The plaintiff Trump Village Section 4, Inc. … is a cooperative corporation that owns apartment buildings in Brooklyn. At the time of commencement of this action, the plaintiff Igor Oberman was the president and chairman of the board of directors of Trump Village, and the defendants Inna Yeselson and Yuliya Bezvoleva, also known as Julia Bezvoleva (hereinafter together the defendants), were shareholders of Trump Village.

The plaintiffs commenced this action to recover damages for defamation alleging that the defendants, among others, authored and published defamatory statements about the plaintiffs on a website….

Here, the allegedly defamatory statements set forth in paragraphs 53 and 55 of the complaint—which asserted, among other things, that Oberman was "attempting insult of American laws & freedom" and was attempting to "destroy Trump Village 4 and sell our buildings to the highest bidder after we are bankrupt"—constituted nonactionable expressions of opinion. The statements set forth in paragraphs 53 and 55 were not easily understandable, were largely incapable of being proven true or false, and, in context, signaled to the average reader that the statements were opinion, not fact. Therefore, the Supreme Court should have … dismiss[ed] the complaint insofar as asserted against the defendants to the extent that it was based on the statements set forth in those two paragraphs ….

The court allowed plaintiffs to proceed with the other defamation claims, which it didn't describe in detail.

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  1. I am also being sued for defamation by the same building and would be very interested if you could say more on the topic.
    It is clear to me that these frivolous lawsuits are intentionally done to make an example out of us so that other tenants will be afraid to speak out. And in this cooperative building it’s working.

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