Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Suit Against Former New York Times CEO May Proceed

The New York Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the First Department that the son-in-law of the former New York Times CEO stated a cause of action in connection with his claims that he was denied tenure as an elementary school teacher because of the actions of the then father-in-law and his attorney, who also is his son.

The alleged tortious conduct took place in the wake of the claim that the plaintiff had engaged in adultery. Plaintiff contends that the defendants engaged in a campaign to deny hin tenure and cause the revocation of his teaching license.

The court declined to hold that the alleged conduct was protected by absolute privilege.

Courthouse News Service had this report on the decision of the First Department:

A teacher can take former New York Times CEO Russell Lewis and his family to court for allegedly blocking tenure to influence the outcome of the teacher's divorce from Lewis' daughter, a New York appeals court ruled.
     Ronald Bruce Posner claims that he was on track to tenure at Siwanoy Elementary, in 2008 when his wife, Erin, accused him of misconduct - having an affair with a student's mother, who was also a substitute teacher at Siwanoy. Posner and Erin had just had a child, Sydney, days before the couple began divorce proceedings.
     Erin's father, Russell Lewis, and brother, David Lewis, told Posner to leave the marital home, which Russell Lewis owned.
     Russell served as president and CEO of the New York Times from 1997 until his retirement in 2004. David, an attorney who resigned from Proskauer Rose in August 2010, also helped to represent his sister, Erin, in the divorce action.
     "Russell 'warned' ... that if plaintiff 'did not go quietly,' Russell would 'make trouble' for plaintiff," the ruling states. "Russell also 'explicitly threatened to go to the Pelham Board of Education and impact [Posner's] tenure."
     Favoring a so-called "clean break" between Posner and Erin, Russell offered Posner money to relinquish his parental rights to Sydney.
     Posner says that when he refused, Erin's family followed through on their promise to make trouble for him, and the school board eventually denied him tenure.
     Posner resigned and sued the Lewis family for tortuous interference.

(Mike Frisch)


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