Appellate Division, Fourth Department
Alf v. The Buffalo News Inc.
Appealed from Supreme Court, Erie County
Background: The plaintiff, the chairperson and sole shareholder of a company, commenced a defamation action after the defendant published a series of articles stemming from a guilty plea by the plaintiff’s company in federal court. The defendant moved to dismiss on the defense of absolute privilege.
Ruling: The Appellate Division affirmed. The court found that the articles, when read as a whole, would lead the average reader to conclude that the company, not the plaintiff himself, had cheated the government. Further, the press releases from the Department of Justice were similar to the statements made in the allegedly defamatory statements contained in the news articles.
John J. Walsh of Carter Ledyard & Milburn and Harris Beach for the plaintiff-appellant; Joseph M. Finnerty of Hiscock & Barclay for the defendant-respondent