Lawyer Wins Libel Case In opposition to Husband’s Ex-Lover — However Verdict Is $5K


From Decide John Cronan’s choice at the moment in Graterol-Garrido v. Vega (S.D.N.Y.); it is fascinating and detailed (32 pages), however this is the Introduction:

Plaintiff Maria Herminia Graterol-Garrido introduced this in opposition to Defendant Patricia Maria Vega, alleging that Vega made a number of defamatory statements about her on Might 16, 2020. In 2010, Vega had a sexual encounter with Graterol-Garrido’s husband, which resulted within the start of a kid early the subsequent 12 months. The allegedly defamatory statements included social media postings that accused Graterol-Garrido of misconduct associated to the ensuing household courtroom proceedings, Graterol-Garrido’s monetary dealings, and different issues. Vega additionally despatched messages over Fb to Graterol-Garrido’s potential enterprise affiliate in Australia, conveying comparable allegations.

A two-day bench trial occurred on November 9 and 10, 2021. For causes that observe, the Court docket finds in favor of Graterol-Garrido as to all causes of motion, concluding that Vega defamed Graterol-Garrido by means of varied statements made on Might 16, 2020, and awards judgment within the quantity of $5,000….

Graterol-Garrido studied regulation in Venezuela earlier than acquiring graduate levels from Harvard College and Columbia Legislation College. She has specialised in ladies’s rights advocacy since 1995, has performed intensive work with the United Nations together with as a advisor, and has served on boards of administrators for varied nonprofit establishments.

And, as to damages:

“Presumed damages are justified on the grounds that these types of defamation which are actionable per se are just about sure to trigger severe damage to repute, and that this sort of damage is extraordinarily tough to show.” Likewise, “psychological and emotional misery” are tough to show. Nevertheless, the “entitlement to common damages doesn’t suggest a proper to substantial damages,” which requires “a discovering of considerable damage.”

The Court docket thus considers the hurt to Graterol-Garrido when assessing damages. As simply famous, there was precise hurt right here. Essentially the most evident skilled hurt to Graterol-Garrido got here from Vega’s messages to the Suppose+Do Tank Basis. Upon receiving the messages, the Basis initiated an inside investigation that required Graterol-Garrido to show over delicate paperwork and concerned interviews of Graterol-Garrido’s buddies {and professional} colleagues. Whereas going by means of a really tough interval, Graterol-Garrido had to offer the Basis with deeply private details about her crumbling marriage, in addition to references to vouch for her character.

Graterol-Garrido nonetheless acquired a seat on the board of administrators, however agreed with the Basis that she mustn’t function its chairperson out of considerations that Vega’s allegations would negatively impression the Basis’s fundraising efforts. And once more, the failure of Vega’s defamation to additional impede Graterol-Garrido’s relationship with the Basis was not for lack of effort on Vega’s half. Vega explicitly “urged” the Basis “to maintain clear accounts to make sure [Graterol-Garrido’s] monetary misconduct … is just not repeated.”

Additional hurt suffered by Graterol-Garrido has come from her ensuing choice to affirmatively disclose Vega’s on-line allegations when making use of to potential positions. And Graterol-Garrido testified credibly that Vega’s allegations has led her to stop utilizing social media and impacted her willingness to pursue sure skilled alternatives.

The Court docket additionally has thought of the hurt prompted whereas aware of the restricted circulation of Vega’s social media postings. Vega testified that each the Fb Publish and the Twitter Publish have been shortly eliminated by the social media companies, and there’s no proof in any other case. The brief time frame when these defamatory messages have been viewable mitigates the harm they prompted. Graterol-Garrido didn’t provide proof as to the variety of Vega’s Fb “buddies” or Twitter “followers,” and there’s no purpose to consider that her private social media pages had significantly massive viewerships.

On the identical time, Vega has made many on-line allegations about Graterol-Garrido past the Fb Publish and the Twitter Publish because the begin of this litigation. She has additionally, no less than to an extent, tried to forestall her libelous posting on Twitter from being eliminated by firm. Vega additionally implied that she has nothing to lose, given her present monetary scenario, which additional warrants nervousness on Graterol-Garrido’s half that Vega’s defamatory conduct will proceed going ahead. Certainly, as famous above, Vega continued to make social media postings attacking Graterol-Garrido even after Graterol-Garrido commenced this litigation.

Contemplating all of those components, the Court docket awards Graterol-Garrido $5,000 in damages for her accidents. The Court docket doesn’t discover {that a} additional award of punitive damages is acceptable.

I hope the plaintiff was glad simply due to the general public exoneration, although I anticipate that it was a fairly costly exoneration. After all, the reference to Vega’s having ” implied that she has nothing to lose, given her present monetary scenario” suggests {that a} $5,000,000 award would not have yielded virtually completely different monetary outcomes than a $5,000 award.

Congratulations to Joshua B. Katz of Kent, Beatty & Gordon, LLP, who represented plaintiff.