New York State Court of Appeals
Statement of Fact vs. Opinion – Context
Thomas H. v. Paul B., et al.
Background: The defendants’ daughter revealed that the plaintiff had raped and molested her at a Vermont residence shared with the plaintiffs. The plaintiff was never charged with the crime. The defendants then informed the plaintiff’s wife. The plaintiff denied the charges and instigated the defamation suit. The trial court had denied summary judgment to the plaintiff, but the Appellate Division reversed finding that the statements made to be statements of opinion.
Ruling: The Court of Appeals held that the defendants were not entitled to summary judgment because they had failed to establish that they did not defame the plaintiff. The Court of Appeals noted the conflicting recollections of the case and the deposition testimony made it impossible to decipher exactly what was said by whom and in the precise context it was made.
Mickey A. Steiman for the appellant; George A. Smith for the respondents