Last week Krantz & Berman scored a major appellate victory in the First Department on behalf of our client, the former Dean of Graduate Studies of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). The complaint we filed on the Dean’s behalf asserted that FIT issued a Press Release falsely implying that she had selected “culturally insensitive” accessories for use in an alumni fashion show and was placed on administrative leave as a result. This was defamatory because, as alleged in the Complaint, the Dean had no involvement in the selection of the accessories and took no part in managing or approving the show. The Press Release was picked up by major news outlets and spread throughout the fashion and education communities, causing great harm to the Dean’s reputation.
The complaint was initially dismissed, based on the lower court’s finding that the alleged defamatory statements were opinion, rather than fact. But the First Department agreed with our arguments, reversed the dismissal, and reinstated the Complaint. The appellate court found the Complaint stated a valid claim for defamation by implication, and the Press Release constituted actionable “mixed opinion.”
The case was handled by Marjorie Berman.