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Should I hire a separate attorney in a libel/defamation case with 5 other defendants?

New York, NY |

I am being accused of libel and defamation in a case in which I had no major involvement in. The plaintiffs wrongfully accused me of sending emails in which I expressed opinions about them. One of the statements is " Yet again another one of XXX's scams! Dam she has the mind of Hitler!" This was just an opinion but the plaintiff is stating this statement was defamatory. I had no other involvement in the allegations. What should I do? Should I hire a separate attorney from the rest of the defendants to answer the summons? Or do we all have to have the same attorney? We are all shareholders of the same coop building in NYC and were expressing opinions about our board of directors.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. If you actually have been served with papers, yes you should have your own attorney - and quickly. The first question is whether to file a motion to dismiss or an answer - and this has to be made with some speed.

    Under the rules governing the conduct of attorneys in New York it may be necessary to remind you that this answer could be considered attorney advertising.


  2. It is hard to answer your question without knowing the allegations against the others. However, you should make a pre-Answer motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. I handle these type of cases.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been doing criminal defense work for over 16 years. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012 and 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell has given me its highest rating - AV Preeminent - in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. According to Martindale-Hubbell”AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence." Fewer than 8% of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I also have the highest ranking – “superb” – on Avvo. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


  3. You should definitely have your own attorney. Even though all "defendants" might be united in interest in so far as wanting to defeat plaintiff's claim in its entirety, there is no such unity when it comes to the percetage each might be responsible to pay in the event liability is resolved in favor of the plaintiiff as against one or more of the named defendants. This presents a potential conflict of interest for the attorney who would represent all defendants. If you have your own homeowner's insurance report this claim against you to that carrier and you may be able to have that carrier pick up your defense and indemnity.


  4. Yes, retain your own lawyer. Contact one of the above lawyers in your state.

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