HBO Files Motion to Dismiss Frangipani Libel Suit

Attorneys for Home Box Office filed a motion last week in a U.S. District Court in New York seeking to dismiss the $5 million libel suit filed against the network last month by autograph authenticator Donald Frangipani.

Among the reasons cited for the request to dismiss the suit, HBO’s lawyers point to a one-year statute of limitations in New York governing defamation claims. The network said the episode of its “Real Sports” program that featured the segment on fake autographs in which Frangipani based his libel claim has not aired since February 2006. That disputes a claim by Frangipani that the report in question had aired “numerous times in the past year.”

HBO also claims that Frangipani’s suit includes 38 claims of conspiracy, antitrust, fraud, tortious interference, defamation and other charges against three other authenticators – James Spence, PSA/DNA and Richard Simon. HBO says it is not named in those 38 claims and that its report did not quote the three authenticators, hence the claims against those parties are unrelated to the libel suit.

“While the complaint alleges that Frangipani’s reputation was damaged by various actions of all defendants, the allegedly wrongful conduct by the HBO defendants in reporting the news is not based on the same facts that form the basis of the plaintiff’s claim that his competitors are engaging in improper business practices,” the network argued in its request for dismissal. “Frangipani’s defamation claim against HBO is not even based on anything said or done by the other defendants – it is based on statements by the FBI, an interview with a member of the forgery ring and on actions allegedly taken by the HBO defendants.”

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