Plead it or Lose it: Failure to Plead Defamatory Statements Warranted Dismissal.

In Abakporo v. Daily News, et al., plaintiff sued the Daily News for two newspaper articles he alleged contained defamatory statements against him.  He also sued for misappropriation of his image pursuant to Civil Rights Law §50.  Though plaintiff annexed the articles to his complaint, his failure to specifically identify the defamatory statements was fatal to his claim.  With respect to the Civil Rights Law, plaintiff failed to adequately allege facts to establish that the photograph accompanying the articles was used for advertising or trade purposes.  Due to plaintiff’s pleading deficiencies, the Second Department affirmed the dismissal of his case.

In evaluating a pre-answer motion to dismiss, courts will liberally apply the facts as alleged in the complaint.  Where a party fails to allege defamatory statements in a defamation complaint, there can be no liberal application of the facts.  As such, in evaluating defamation claims, the first inquiry must always be whether the complaint was appropriately pled, and whether a pre-answer motion to dismiss is feasible.

For more information about this case, please contact Cheryl at cfuchs@wcmlaw.com.