Russian American Foundation, Inc., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Daily News, L.P., et al., Defendants-Respondents.
Mintz & Gold LLP, New York (Steven G. Mintz of counsel), for appellants.
Matthew A. Leish, New York, for respondents.
Acosta, J.P., Renwick, Richter, Feinman, JJ.
Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Ellen M. Coin, J.), entered December 17, 2012, which, in this action alleging, inter alia, libel, granted defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint, unanimously affirmed, without costs.
Plaintiff Russian American Foundation, Inc. (RAF) is a nonprofit corporation that promotes Russian culture within the United States. RAF was founded by plaintiffs Marina Kovalyov, its president, and Rina Krishner, Kovalyov's daughter. Kovalyov is also the vice president of Firebird Productions, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in public relations within the Russian-American community.
On October 2, 2011, defendant Daily News, L.P., published an article about a bribery scandal involving former State Senator Carl Kruger. The headline, as it appeared on the front page of the print edition, read: "PAY UP! Sen. Kruger's a bribe-taking machine, feds charge.  On the Daily News website, the article bore the headline: "State Sen. Carl Kruger's list of bribes for political favors continues to grow: FBI."
The two sub-headlines of the article in the print and digital editions read: "FBI documents show many payments to B'klyn pol's shell firms" and "Ch-ching, he's listening!" Between the sub-headlines was a photograph of Kovalyov with the caption: "Marina Kovalyov, of Firebird Productions, got $50, 000 in taxpayer grants from Kruger in 2007 & 2008." The website edition of the article did not include Kovalyov's photograph or the caption; it showed a photograph of Kruger with the caption: "FBI records show that State Senator Carl Kruger accepted payment [from] various shell companies in exchange for political favors."
The article, written by defendant Robert Gearty, states that Kruger accepted a bribe from a land developer in Brooklyn.
"[The land developer] is part of a growing parade of locals the FBI believes bribed Kruger to win his political largesse, newly released court papers show.
"The group includes a Russian arts group seeking taxpayer money, a Diamond District dealer trying to open an adult day care center, and an insurance broker who would benefit from a bill Kruger sponsored mandating that all doctors buy malpractice insurance.
"All made payments to shell companies affiliated with Kruger, the longtime Brooklyn Democrat who faces federal charges of exacting bribes to grant political favors, court papers said.
" Kruger was indicted in March and is set for trial in January, charged with taking bribes to facilitate a hospital merger and to smooth the way for a developer.
"As his case progresses, more evidence has emerged that paints a broader portrait of ...