Skeet v. 150 RFT Varick Corp.

NEW YORK COUNTY
Torts

New York Law Journal

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Justice Saliann Scarpulla

150 RFT Varick Corp. moved for partial summary judgment dismissing Skeet's defamation claim. Skeet was stabbed by a patron at 150 RFT and sued, arguing 150 RFT was negligent for failing to provide proper security. He also claimed 150 RFT negligently permitted the assailant, Gibbard, to enter the club with a knife, which resulted from its discriminatory security practice of admitting white patron's without a security check, while requiring blacks to undergo a pat-down or metal detector scan. A New York Daily News article on the lawsuit included a statement from 150 RFT denying the charges and quoting a spokesperson as saying "this lawsuit is clearly an attempt by a disgruntled former employee who was fired to blackmail the Greenhouse ownership for a payout." The court found such statement non-actionable opinion, noting a reasonable reader would conclude it conveyed an opinion about the merits of Skeet's suit, rather than an assertion of fact that the suit was an attempt to commit a crime against 150 RFT. It also found the statement did not qualify as actionable mixed opinion, and granted defendant's motion for partial summary judgment dismissing Skeet's defamation cause of action.

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