Grossman LLP Defeats Attempt to Dismiss Defamation Claim by Art Dealer Against Major Art Gallery
09/06/2022Last month, the Grossman team prevailed in defending a prominent art dealer’s complaint against a gallery’s motion to dismiss. Attorney Maria Angela Brusco led the effort in drafting the opposition papers and presenting oral argument, resulting in an order denying the motion to dismiss.
The lawsuit began as a breach-of-contract claim in a dispute over our client’s purchase of an artwork, but Grossman subsequently added a defamation claim, alleging that the defendants additionally made false statements to our client’s employer after the sale, resulting in the termination of her employment. Defamation presents a complex and evolving area of law. Indeed, the Supreme Court recently denied certiorari to two cases that could have revisited the famous actual malice standard for defamation of public figures, first articulated in 1964 in Times v. Sullivan.
The defamation claim in this case presented a number of interesting legal issues. The defendants earlier had unsuccessfully challenged the complaint, and mounted this second attack after the complaint was amended to add additional details concerning the defamation claim. Issues included whether the statement at issue was defamatory in nature; the types of damages a plaintiff must allege to have a cause of action; and the slippery pleading standards for bringing such claims. At the dismissal hearing, the Court complimented Ms. Brusco’s “very skilled argument,” and then issued an order denying the dismissal motion for the very reasons she had stated on the record. The Case will now proceed to discovery and a determination on the merits.
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