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Liberman v. Gelstein

Court of Appeals of New York
605 N.E.2d 344 (1992)


Facts

Liberman (plaintiff) brought a slander claim against Gelstein (defendant). One cause of action alleges that Gelstein, a member of the tenants’ board of directors, told a fellow board member that Liberman, their landlord, bribes police officers so as not to receive parking tickets. Gelstein admitted that he did not know whether this allegation was true, but argued that the statement was protected under the common interest qualified privilege because it was made between two members of the board of directors in an attempt to discover whether the allegations were true. The trial court dismissed this cause of action, finding the statement to be qualifiedly privileged, and that Liberman had failed to raise an issue of malice. Another cause of action alleges that Gelstein told a building employee that Liberman threw a punch at him, screamed at his wife and daughter, called his daughter a slut, and threatened to kill him and his family. The trial court dismissed this cause of action, finding that in the context of the parties’ history of conflict the statement was simply rhetorical hyperbole. The Appellate Division affirmed. Liberman appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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