Legal Updates for Lawyers Professional Liability
Marshall Dennehey Attorneys Win Dismissal of a $10,000,000 Defamation and Tortious Interference Case
In 2820 Mt. Ephraim Avenue v. Brown, Jack Slimm and Jeremy Zacharias successfully argued pre-trial Motions to Dismiss in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County, in a $10 million tortious interference and defamation case. The action was filed on behalf of investors against an attorney and bank counsel arising out of a multi-million dollar loan for a commercial land transaction. The allegations against the attorney included slander for allegedly calling the plaintiff a “wannabe gangster” in front of a potential investor, as well as a claim for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage for a contract that the plaintiff entered into with the investor.
In connection with the slander claims, Jack and Jeremy argued that calling someone a “wannabe gangster” in the course of settlement negotiations is protected by the litigation privilege. Additionally, allegedly calling the plaintiff a “wannabe gangster” was mere name calling and not actionable defamation. Jack and Jeremy argued that the established case law in New Jersey holds that this pejorative was simply derision and did not rise to the level of actionable defamation or slander in New Jersey. The court agreed and dismissed the defamation claims.
Additionally, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s tortious interference claim, rejected the plaintiff’s claims of willful misconduct of the bank’s attorney and found that the plaintiff’s damages claims, although supported by expert reports, were speculative. The court agreed with the defense argument that the plaintiff’s claims for lost profits were barred by New Jersey’s New Business Rule. Under this rule, prospective profits of a new business are considered too remote and speculative to meet the legal standard to recover damages. As a result, the court entered a dismissal of the entire case.
Should you have any questions regarding the defense of attorneys in tortious interference or defamation claims, please contact Jack Slimm at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeremy Zacharias at email@example.com.
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