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"Defamation" -- the publication of a false statement that injures someone's reputation and exposes that individual to public condemnation, contempt, hatred or ridicule -- can get you in a heap of trouble. At least that's what one guy learned the hard way in Kotowski v. Hadley .

Kotowski -- an ex-cop -- is the general manager of North Shore Tower Apartments, Inc. (NST), a cooperative apartment complex located in Queens, New York. When Hadley's service contract was not renewed, Hadley circulated a series of e-mails to over 100 people on a mass distribution list (which included the NST's tenants) accusing Kotowski of all sorts of improprieties.

When Kotowski later sued alleging that the statements were harmful to his reputation, the Queens County Supreme Court concluded that a proper defamation claim had not been asserted and dismissed the case. On appeal, the Appellate Division, Second Department, disagreed and reinstated Kotowski's lawsuit.

The AD2 was of the opinion that the defendant's accusations that Kotowsky had engaged in "illegal wiretapping" of NST telephones, violated fire safety laws, and, falsified crime statistics while a New York City Police Officer were "reasonably susceptible of a defamatory meaning and did not constitute personal opinion since they reasonably appeared to contain assertions of objective fact which do not fall within the scope of protected opinion ...."

Which just goes to show you, if you can't say anything nice ... 

For a copy of the Appellate Division's decision, please use this link: Kotowski v. Hadley

For our other blog posts on this topic, please use this link: Defamation