CATTERSON v. NORTH SUFFOLK PUBLISHING CORP

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

James M. CATTERSON, Appellant, v. NORTH SUFFOLK PUBLISHING CORP., et al., Respondents.

Decided: April 27, 1998

Before THOMPSON, J.P., and PIZZUTO, KRAUSMAN and FLORIO, JJ. Snitow & Pauley, New York City (William H. Pauley III and Edward J. Phillips, of counsel), for appellant. Cahn Wishod & Lamb, LLP, Melville (Conley E. Brian, Jr., of counsel), for respondents.

In an action to recover damages for defamation, the plaintiff appeals from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Stark, J.), entered April 28, 1997, which, upon granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment, is in favor of the defendants and against him dismissing the complaint.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed, with costs.

The plaintiff James M. Catterson, a Deputy County Attorney of Suffolk County, commenced this action to recover damages for an allegedly defamatory statement published in a newspaper, The Three Village Herald, on January 4, 1995, by the defendants Susan Bridson, the author of the statement, and North Suffolk Publishing Corp., the publisher of the newspaper.   The statement asserted that the plaintiff had “multiple ties” with a corporation that had received a lucrative car-leasing contract from Suffolk County.

The Supreme Court properly granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment.   Contrary to the plaintiff's contention, he failed to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that a material issue of fact existed as to whether the defendants published the allegedly defamatory statement with reckless disregard of the truth (see, Harte-Hanks Communications v. Connaughton, 491 U.S. 657, 659, 109 S.Ct. 2678, 2681-2682, 105 L.Ed.2d 562;  Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2513, 91 L.Ed.2d 202;  New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 279-280, 84 S.Ct. 710, 725-726, 11 L.Ed.2d 686;  Freeman v. Johnston, 84 N.Y.2d 52, 54-57, 614 N.Y.S.2d 377, 637 N.E.2d 268, cert. denied 513 U.S. 1016, 115 S.Ct. 576, 130 L.Ed.2d 492).   There was no evidence in the record that the defendants “entertained serious doubts” as to the truth of the published statement (St. Amant v. Thompson, 390 U.S. 727, 731, 88 S.Ct. 1323, 1325-1326, 20 L.Ed.2d 262;  see, Freeman v. Johnston, supra, at 58, 614 N.Y.S.2d 377, 637 N.E.2d 268).

MEMORANDUM BY THE COURT.

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