164 Mulberry Street Corp. v. Columbia University
Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division
771 N.Y.S.2d 16 (2004)
Francis Flynn (defendant), a professor at Columbia University (Columbia) (defendant), conducted a study whereby he sent letters to various restaurants in New York City falsely claiming to have contracted severe food poisoning after eating at the restaurant. Flynn’s study was intended to compare how restaurants responded to such accusations. Columbia was unaware of the study and had no policies or procedures in place regarding empirical research like Flynn’s. Various restaurants, their owners, managers, and employees (plaintiffs) sued Flynn and Columbia in two separate actions, alleging intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, libel and libel per se, and misrepresentation. One of the lawsuits involved a restaurant called Da Nico, owned by plaintiff 164 Mulberry Street Corp. The other suit involved two restaurants, Chez Josephine and Two Two Two, which were respectively owned by plaintiffs Jean Claude Baker and Frank Valenza. Plaintiffs described the competitive nature of the New York City restaurant scene and how allegations of food poisoning could do irremediable damage. Baker and Valenza submitted personal affidavits documenting physical and psychological ailments resulting from the stress caused by Flynn’s accusations. They provided further details about discarding food at great cost and undertaking difficult dealings with vendors and employees to locate the cause of the alleged contamination. Defendants moved to dismiss both complaints for failing to state a viable cause of action. The trial court dismissed some but not all of the claims. In the Chez Josephine action, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ libel claims but allowed Baker and Valenza to pursue their claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants appealed that decision.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Tom, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 166,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.