Goldman v. Reddington, No. 18-cv-3662 (E.D.N.Y.) Motion to Dismiss denied September 27, 2019.
Alex Goldman and Katherine Reddington were students at Syracuse University whose overnight encounter following a party ended with Reddington sensing that something had gone awry, although she had no recollection of assault until after psychotherapy months later. Reddington obtained a physical examination which produced no evidence of assault. The district attorney declined prosecution for lack of evidence.
However, Syracuse University took note of Reddington’s Title IX allegations and expelled Goldman, who subsequently enrolled in another university and sought employment with an engineering firm.
Goldman’s complaint states that Reddington boasted of succeeding in her case against Goldman on campus at Syracuse and online, and that she either posted or republished online comments calling him a ‘monster.’ Those comments, which attracted attention and public commentary, were tagged to Goldman’s new school and employer.
Goldman was summarily fired from his job.
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York has rejected Reddington’s argument that Goldman failed to plead facts sufficient to establish defamation or tortious interference with business relations and declined to address Reddington’s argument that an injunction against further commentary would violate her First Amendment rights, as a motion to dismiss addresses the complaint and not the remedies sought.
The court did not agree with Reddington’s defense that she had offered non-actionable opinion about Goldman where that opinion was premised upon defamatory accusations of criminal conduct.
Reddington’s tagging or republication of online posts she claims did not originate with her are not insulated from liability, the court held, for republication of defamatory material is itself actionable.
Moreover, Goldman could go forward on his claim of tortious interference with business relationships as the claim can be premised on defamation.