New York Building Owners Shouldn’t Get Away With Filing Baseless Defamation Suits Against Neighbors

March 11, 2019

MEDIA ADVISORY

Tuesday: New York Building Owners Shouldn’t Get Away With Filing Baseless Defamation Suits Against Neighbors

Two Companies That Sued Over Construction Complaints Should Pay Attorneys Fees

WHAT: Two companies that own an apartment building in Manhattan should pay attorneys fees for filing a bogus defamation lawsuit over construction complaints, a Public Citizen attorney will argue Tuesday in the New York state appellate court.

In 2017, 315 West 103 Enterprises LLC and 315 W 103 St. Development LLC brought a defamation suit against a neighbor of the building claiming that he defamed it in calls to 311, a New York City hotline, in which he objected to construction work on the building in violation of stop work orders imposed under building permits. The neighbor moved to dismiss the action, citing New York’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) law, claiming that he had a sound basis for his complaints and that the suit was a baseless SLAPP suit, seeking as well an award for attorneys fees and damages.

Faced with opposition, the plaintiffs decided that it would cost too much money to litigate the case and dropped the suit, but not before putting the neighbor through the cost, trouble and anxiety of a seven-count lawsuit. The main issue in the appeal is whether a plaintiff can avoid paying attorneys fees by dropping its lawsuit after a motion is filed under the state anti-SLAPP law.

“The anti-SLAPP law was aimed at protecting New Yorkers who participate in public issues from lawsuits that are intended to intimidate critics by imposing the expense and anxiety of being sued,” said Paul Alan Levy, the Public Citizen attorney representing the neighbor, Richard Robbins. “Only by holding plaintiffs liable when they bring such suits can the purpose of the law be fulfilled.”

Levy will argue that the plaintiffs should not have been permitted to avoid the consequences of having filed a baseless defamation complaint. The case is 315 West 103 Enterprises v. Robbins.

WHEN: 2 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, March 12

WHO: Paul Alan Levy, the Public Citizen attorney representing Richard Robbins

WHERE: New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department
27 Madison Ave.
New York, N.Y.