On July 9, Metroland was served the lawsuit that was filed March 12 with the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Niagara County, alleging, among other things, that the paper defamed the controversial company NXIVM and its founder, Keith Raniere [“We’ve Been Served—Oh Wait,” Newsfront, April 2].
NXIVM is a Capital Region-based company that offers personal and professional training seminars.
The article cited in the $65 million lawsuit, “The Stars Come
Out in Troy,” was written by news editor Chet Hardin and published
on March 13, 2008. The article reported that television actresses
Nicki Clyne, of Battlestar Galactica, and Allison Mack
of Smallville, reportedly adherents of NXIVM, were
considering starting a business and had met with Troy Mayor
Harry Tutunjian. In it, Hardin quoted at length longtime NXIVM
critic Rick Ross.
The crux of NXIVM’s lawsuit against Metroland stems from one line: “Raniere, according to Ross, is not allowed, by law, to be involved in a discount buyer’s club, due to the collapse of CBI.” Consumers Buyline, Inc. is a company that Raniere started and ran throughout the 1990s until it was shuttered after multiple investigations.
NXIVM had been contacted for the article, and president Nancy Salzman was quoted.
The suit maintains that Ross’ claim is false, and alleges that Metroland either knew this claim to be false or were “grossly negligent” in its reporting.
The suit also alleges that Metroland was involved in a conspiracy with Ross, among others, to defame NXIVM. The suit claims that NXIVM has suffered great financial loss from this product disparagement.
“The complaint is baseless,” said Metroland editor and publisher Stephen Leon, “and 97 percent of it has nothing to do with Metroland.” The passage from Hardin’s story that is cited in the lawsuit, Leon said, “isn’t even remotely defamatory.”
Leon said that he is talking with legal counsel, and hopes to have the case quickly dismissed. “I am frankly surprised that they [NXIVM] have gone to the trouble to do this, because it seems so pointless,” he said.
In the April story, Metroland reported that NXIVM had filed the suit, and quoted NXIVM president Nancy Salzman as saying, “We believe Metroland will engage in a meaningful dialogue with us relating to these issues.” Leon said he is not sure what Salzman meant by that statement, and that Metroland was never contacted by a representative of NXIVM after that story.