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Clown Comparison Wasn’t Defamatory, Court Rules

(CN) - A building company president did not defame a landlord by likening him to "Clarabell" the clown from the old "Howdy Doody Show" on his website, a New York appeals court ruled.

Edward Harrington, who runs Traditional Family Builders, also called landlord David Wahrendorf and his wife, Mary Kathleen, "slumlords" and "sociopaths," and called one of their properties a "pig pen" and a "garbage heap."

The Wahrendorfs sued Harrington, his company and the city of Oswego, where Harrington serves as an alderman.

The trial court ruled that Harrington's statements did not rise to the level of defamation, and the justices of the Fourth Appellate Division in Rochester, N.Y., agreed.

"We conclude that those statements amounted to no more than name-calling or general insults and were clearly part of the attempt at humor prevailing throughout," they wrote.

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