November 12, 2013: NY Judge rules in Kaieteur News favor in a libel case brought by New GPC (Bobby Ramroop).
Bad News is bad news for the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation. A New York Judge, Judge Kenney, has ruled that Kaieteur News has every right to publish what it did about the New GPC. Judge Kenny ruled that as a preliminary matter, New GPC failed to make any showing that the articles published by Kaieteur News International “constitute fault as judged by, at a minimum, a negligence standard.” For this reason alone, New GPC failed to make a prima facie showing. The New York Court denied Bobby Ramroop’s outfit its preliminary request and asked that the parties appear in court on January 9th 2014. In this action the New GPC) sought damages for alleged defamatory statements made by defendant Kaieteur Newspaper Inc. (KNI) in its New York newspaper, the “Kaieteur News.” New GPC now moved for partial summary judgment on liability on the portion of its complaint alleging a cause of action for libel against defendant. Judge Kenny ordered that GPC’s motion for partial summary judgment be denied in its entirety.
The Judge noted that GPC brought up cases that had no relevance since this was a media outlet challenging in the public domain the work of a private corporation. Thus, as the alleged defamatory statements are a matter of public concern, particularly for Guyanese nationals residing in New York, New GPC was required to make a prima facie showing of gross irresponsibility resulting in a defamatory falsity the court ruled In addition the New GPC failed to submit any documentary evidence substantiating its then Company Secretary’s conclusory statements that Kaieteur News had committed libel. For instance, New GPC fails to submit invoices, bank statements, or evidence of prevailing market rates for the pharmaceuticals, to support New GPC’s conclusion that the newspaper’s statements were false. Nor does New GPC make any showing of gross irresponsibility concerning Kaieteur News’ published statements. The court noted that the basis of the articles themselves make several references to the Guyanese “government” and its “corrupt practices,” the government’s collusion with New GPC in “shady procurement practices,” and the resulting “`direct threat to the health and well-being of the people of Guyana.” The articles also suggested ties between New GPC’s owner and the former president of Guyana. In cases involving a media defendant the Judge noted that “where the plaintiff is held to be a private figure and the topic of the article is a matter of public concern . . ., the plaintiff is required to prove gross irresponsibility. In determining whether the alleged defamatory statement is a matter of “legitimate public concern,” the content of the statement must be “viewed in the context of the writing as a whole, and not as disembodied words, phrases or sentences,” and “Courts must examine their content, form, and context.” Furthermore, “absent clear abuse,” the court “defers to the news editor’s determination of whether the portions of the article to which plaintiff objects are reasonably related to matters warranting public exposition, the court determined. Kaieteur News has relentlessly pursued allegations of corruption in Guyana and has come under fire from the Government and its supporters for its position.