Firm Defeats Libel Charge Against Newsday

March 25, 2003

As reported on the cover of today's New York Law Journal , a Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler team of Saul Shapiro, Kathleen Jennings and Sneha Patel, successfully defeated a libel suit against Newsday brought by the Nassau County Republican chairman, Joseph Mondello. Mondello had charged that a headline and accompanying photo of his home on the front page of the paper defamed him by implying that he had participated in a conspiracy to grant property tax cuts to politically connected Nassau County residents. The case was heard in the Supreme Court of Suffolk County after Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler had successfully moved the case from Nassau County, where most of the judiciary had been put on the ballot with Mondello's blessing. Six judges in Suffolk County had recused themselves and one was disqualified by motion before Justice John J.J. Jones, Jr. agreed to hear it. Judge Jones found that the photograph of Mondello's home under the headline, "Chosen Few – Member of Little-Known Panel Resigns Amid Questions on Assessments Granted to Politically Connected" did not amount to libel by implication. In addition, the judge dismissed trespass claims against the newspaper and its photographer on charges they entered his property.