In the ongoing war between billionaire Louis Bacon and Canadian clothing magnate Peter Nygård, a New York Supreme Court judge threw out 105 of the 135 defamatory claims that Bacon underscored in his $50 million suit.
Bacon, chairman and chief executive officer of Moore Capital Management, and Nygard, a Manitoba-based apparel executive, are neighbors in the tony Lyford Cay enclave in the Bahamas and have clashed in and out of court for years. Three months after Bacon filed his $50 million defamation suit against Nygård, Nygård retaliated with his own $50 million countersuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County.
Judge Cynthia S. Kern ruled Friday that the various allegations were dismissed on the grounds of duplication of the defamatory claims or for being time-barred. Under New York law, claims for defamation and defamation per se are governed by a one-year statute of limitations. Bacon, who first filed a suit in January and amended it in April, claimed that he had not obtained sufficient information to take legal action until a videographer, Stephen Feralio, stepped forward as a whistle-blower providing evidence for Nygård’s legal action in August 2014.
But Kern noted that Bacon had published two letters claiming Nygård was the mastermind of the purported harassment campaign in local Bahamian newspapers and on a Web site on April 19, 2013, and on August 9, 2013. Given that, Bacon had enough information to defend the smear campaign alleged by the defendant.
In Friday’s 12-page decision, Kern upheld the alleged defamatory statements made after January 14, 2014, dismissing Bacon’s claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and prima facie tort.
An attorney for Nygård, Aaron Marks of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, said Friday, “The court’s decision today dismissing most of Bacon’s claims and rejecting all of his arguments is a significant victory for Mr. Nygård. Bacon’s remaining claims in the case are frivolous and we expect that they will be similarly disposed.”
But Bacon’s team isn’t about to give up the fight. His counsel, Orin Snyder of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, said, “Today’s opinion affirms that at least 30 claims of defamation can proceed against Peter Nygård. While we respectfully disagree with Justice Kern’s decision dismissing certain claims as beyond the statute of limitations, we are confident that, when Mr. Nygård’s egregious conduct is exposed in court, we will prevail.”