CHANG v. FA-YUN


265 A.D.2d 265 (1999)

697 N.Y.S.2d 31

RUBY CHANG, Individually and as Trustee of GRACE GRATITUDE BUDDHIST TEMPLE, INC., Respondent, v. FA-YUN, Appellant.

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, First Department.

Decided October 28, 1999.


The cause of action for defamation, based on a community newspaper advertisement announcing plaintiff's termination as an officer and director of the not-for-profit corporation on whose behalf plaintiff also sues derivatively, should have been dismissed since the advertisement did not mention or imply any wrongdoing or incompetency on plaintiff's part (see, Streips v LTV Corp., 216 A.D.2d 923). "The mere statement of discharge or termination from employment, even if untrue, does not constitute libel." (Lian v Sedgwick James of N. Y., 992 F.Supp. 644, 649, citing Nichols v Item Publs., 309 N.Y. 596, 601; Davis v Ross, 754 F.2d 80, 84.) The order should be affirmed in all other respects. If, as defendant argues, plaintiff was never formally appointed as a trustee or officer of the corporation, a formal vote of the trustees was not needed to remove her from those positions, despite what was stated in the newspaper advertisement. Of course, assuming plaintiff is a trustee or officer of the corporation, her removal without a validly called meeting was a nullity, and her right of action against other officers and directors of the corporation could not then be challenged for lack of standing (Not-For-Profit Corporation Law § 720; see, Wyckoff v Sagall, 16 Misc.2d 630). Concerning defendant's request that this Court search the record and, sua sponte, grant summary judgment in favor of the corporation on its cause of action for a money judgment against plaintiff, we note the existence of numerous issues of credibility. We have considered defendant's other arguments and find them unpersuasive.


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