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Volpe v. Paniccioli

Supreme Court of New York, New York County

November 30, 2017, Published

159739/2015

Opinion

Volpe alleged she was sexually harassed by Paniccioli while she worked for defendants on a motion picture, suing him for $150,000 for amounts allegedly due her under the film contract. She asserted defendants' counterclaims, including for defamation, were retaliatory, asserting claims for assault and battery, breach of contract and violations of the city's Civil Rights Laws. Defendants asserted defamation based on filings Volpe's husband made with Paniccioli's insurance carrier and Department of Education, which threatened Paniccioli's pharmacist license. Volpe moved for dismissal of the counterclaims arguing statements she made were absolutely privileged as made in the context of judicial proceedings. Yet, the court noted delivery of a copy of a report of a complaint to the press was not a statement made during the course of judicial proceedings, thus, not protected by the common law privilege. It found defendants' counterclaim for fraud was sufficiently specific, rejecting Volpe's claim defe4ndants lacked evidentiary support as meritless. While dismissal of the third and fourth counterclaims was granted, the motion was otherwise denied.

Full Case Digest [*2]  Text

Decision and Order

In this action (Volpe v. Paniccioli, Sup Ct, New York County, St. George, J., Index No. 159739/2015 [Volpe]), plaintiff Leonora Volpe alleges that, while she worked for defendants on a motion picture relating to the ballet world, defendant Anthony Carmine Paniccioli sexually harassed her. The complaint describes in detail numerous alleged acts of harassment. In addition, she sues Mr. Paniccioli for $150,000, the remaining amount allegedly due to her under the film contract. She alleges that defendants' counterclaims are retaliatory. She alleges causes of action under the city's Civil Rights Laws (Administrative Code of City of NY tit 8), sections 8-107 (1) (a), 8-107 (1) (e), 8-107 (19), and 8-107 (13)), as well as under State law (Executive Law §§296, 296 [7], and 296 )). Plaintiff further asserts causes of action for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree,1 gender motivated violence, and breach of contract. In their answer, defendants deny all of plaintiff's allegations against them and assert several counterclaims. In their first and second counterclaims they assert defamation, based on

the allegations in the lawsuit [*3]  and their publication in the NEW YORK POST, and on the filing plaintiff's husband made to Mr. Paniccioli's insurance carriers and with the Department of Education. They argue that these allegations threaten Mr. Paniccioli's license as a pharmacist. They additionally set forth a summary of the assertions in their own action, Paniccioli v. Mulligan (Sup Ct NY County, St. George, J., Index No. 157882/2016 [Paniccioli]),2 and they argue that, through her husband, non-party Howard Mulligan, plaintiff lied to the Department of Education and to Mr. Paniccioli's insurers, notifying them of this lawsuit and asserting that Mr. Paniccioli had engaged in illegal activities in his capacity as a pharmacist.3

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2017 NYLJ LEXIS 3318 *

Volpe v. Paniccioli

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(Volpe v. Paniccioli, NYLJ, Nov. 30, 2017 at 33)

CORE TERMS

counterclaim, defendants', allegations, lawsuit, asserts, defamation, judicial proceedings, cause of action, defamatory, sexual, press, argues