Galanova v. Safir
Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department, April 11, 2016
Plaintiff, a shareholder in a cooperative apartment building and a member of its Board of Directors (the “Board”) commenced this action against cooperative and the remaining members of the Board alleging that fellow Board members defamed her in emails sent to the managing agent and general counsel alleging she was in arrears on her maintenance. Plaintiff also claimed that she was defamed by including her name on an arrears flyer posted in the lobby of the cooperative and by posting a nonpayment petition on her door for a nonpayment proceeding commenced against her in Civil Court.
The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the alleged defamatory statements were either non-actionable statements of opinion or protected by privilege. The Supreme Court denied defendants’ motions for summary judgement dismissing the complaint and defendants appealed. On appeal, the Appellate Division reversed holding that the emails were “subjective characterizations of the plaintiff’s behavior and an evaluation of her performance as a member of the Board and thus constituted non-actionable expressions of opinion,’ the statements in the arrears flyer were protected by the qualified common-interest privilege, and the posting of the petition was done in order to effectuate service pursuant to the CPLR. Further, the statements contained in the petition were protected by absolute privilege as they were related to a pending judicial action.