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Defamation Claim Based on Statements Made at Condo Board Meeting is Dismissed

A condominium board of managers met to consider allegations that the Treasurer had harassed the condominium’s employees.  During the meeting, the President made statements concerning the allegations and called for a vote on a motion to rebuke the Treasurer.  The motion passed and this fact was reported in the board minutes.  The Treasurer asserted that the President’s statements were false and sued her for defamation.

The court dismissed the claim.  “As [the President] and the attendees of the board meeting constituted a group with a common interest, the statements at issue are cloaked in common-interest privilege,” meaning that they could not be the basis of a defamation claim.  Although this type of privilege can be overcome by showing that the disputed statement was made maliciously, here the plaintiff’s allegations of malice were “conclusory” and therefore insufficient.  The Treasurer admitted that condominium employees had complained about her to the building’s managing agent.  There were no allegations that the President knew the employees’ complaints were false, that the President recklessly disregarded the truth, or that the statements were made out of ill will or spite.  Accordingly, the complaint was dismissed.  Harpaz v. Dunn, 2022 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1935, 2022 N.Y. Slip Op. 2062 (1st Dep’t Mar. 24, 2022).