Friday, January 5, 2007
A law firm sued a former client and her husband for allegedly defamatory statements they had made in a letter firing the firm which had represented the woman and her brother in a family business dispute. In addition to criticizing the quality of the firm's representation, the letter accused the firm of charging excessive interest on its outstanding fees. The letter was copied to the former client's brother and to two attorneys who also had been advising the woman in the litigation. On January 4, 2007, in Sexter & Warmflash v. Margrabe, the First Department found that "a kind of communication at issue here - a letter among parties and counsel on the subject of pending or prospective litigation - enjoys the protection of the absolute privilege for judicial proceedings." The Court made it clear that persons involved in any judicial proceeding are absolutely privileged to speak about it among themselves, regardless of the speaker's motive.