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Slander Decision

Slander Decision

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Published by The Post-Standard
Judge's decision in Boeheim slander case.
Judge's decision in Boeheim slander case.

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Published by: The Post-Standard on Feb 10, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/10/2014

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-against-IndexNo.
113967/2011
SUPREMECOURTOFTHESTATEOFNEWYORKCOUNTYOFNEWYORK:PART61
-----------------------------------------------------------------)(
ROBERTDAVISandMICHAELLANG,Plaintiffs,DECISIONANDORDERJAMESBOEHEIMandSYRACUSEUNIVERSITY,Defendants.
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HON.ANILC.SINGH,J.:PlaintiffscommencedthisdefamationactionagainstdefendantsJamesBoeheimandSyracuseUniversitybyfilingasummonsandverifiedcomplainton
(
December13,'2011.DefendantshavemovedinOnondagaCountyforachangeofvenueonthegroundsthatvenueismisplacedinNewYorkCounty.ThismotionistobeheardonFebruary21,2012.DefendantshavealsofiledamotionbeforethisCourt,returnableMarch14,2012,todismisstheactionpursuanttoCPLR3211(a)(7),onthegroundsthattheallegeddefamatorylanguagewasanon-actionableexpressionofdefendant'sopinion.PlaintiffsJ;11ovebyordertoshowcauseforanorderliftingtheautomaticstaypursuanttoCPLR3214(b)andallowingthemtoconduct"limited"discovery
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inaidoftheirresponsetodefendants'motiontotransfervenuefromthisCourttotheOnondagaCountySupremeCourtpursuanttoCPLR510and511.Defendantsopposetheapplication.BACKGROUNDPlaintiffsRobertDavisandMichaelLangallegethattheysufferedyearsofsexualmolestationatthehandsofBernieFine,anassociateheadbasketballcoachatSyracuseUniversity.PlaintiffsmadeapublicannouncementthatdefendantJamesBoeheim,headcoachofthebasketballteamforthirty-fiveyears,kneworshouldhaveknownthatFineengagedinimpropersexualconductwithyoungboys,andthatBoeheimdidlittleornothingtostopFine'sconduct.ThecomplaintallegesthatwhenBoeheimspokewiththepress,hedidsoinfurtheranceofhisemploymentduties,andinhisofficialcapacityastheheadcoachofSyracuse'sbasketballteam;thatBoeheim'sstatementstoESPN,theSyracuse
Post-Standard
newspaper,andthe
NewYorkTimes
containedfalsestatementsaboutplaintiffs,includingthatplaintiffs'accusationsagainstFinewereliesandthatplaintiffsweremotivatedbymoney;andthatBoeheimmadethestatementsknowingtheywerefalseorrecklesslydisregardingtheirtruthorfalsity.AlthoughplaintiffRobertDavisresidesinOnondagaCounty,andplaintiffMichaelLangresidesinOswegoCounty,venueisplacedinNewYorkCounty.
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/\
/
OnDecember30,2011,defendantsservedplaintiffswithademandforchangeofvenueasofrighttoOnondagaCountypursuanttoCPLR511(a)and(b),onthegroundsthatnopartyresidesinNewYorkCounty.Inresponse,plaintiffs
':
assertedthatNewYorkCountyisthepropervenueforthismatterbecauseitwouldbeimpossibleforthemtogetanimpartialtrialinOnondagaCounty.DISCUSSIONInsupportoftheirmotiontoliftthestay,plaintiffRobertDavisexecutedaswornaffidavitallegingthat,foryears,BernieFine'swife,LaurieFine,hadsexualrelationshipswithbasketballteamplayers;thatBernieFine-Boeheim'sassociateheadcoachandthemaninchargeofrecruitingplayers-knewthatLaurieFinewashavinginappropriatesexualrelationswithplayersandheneverappearedtoobjecttoit;andthatitisdifficult,ifnotimpossible,toimaginethatBoeheimdidnothearorlearnfromtheplayersthemselvesorothersthatLaurieFinehadsuchrepeatedinappropriatesexualrelations.Davismaintainsthathehas"reasontobelievethatatleastoneplayerandperhapsmoreofthemcurrentlylivesinNewYorkCity"(DavisAff.,para.16).PlaintiffsareseekingpermissionfromthisCourttoconductdiscoveryintheformofinterrogatoriestailoredtoidentifyandlocatekeynon-partywitnesses,afacttheplaintiffscontendisrelevanttotheissueofvenue.Specifically,plaintiffs
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