Contractor Takes Affront at ‘Crooked’ Tab Headline

     QUEENS, N.Y. (CN) — A contractor blasted as “crooked” by the New York Daily News after taking the city’s housing authority to court has fired back with a defamation complaint.
     Metropolitan Bridge & Scaffolds says the unfair headline came after at least a decade of providing shed and scaffolding services at New York City construction projects.
     The contractor and the New York City Housing Authority were approaching their third year of litigation in September 2015 when the agency brought a counterclaim.
     Metropolitan says it was suing for roughly $1 million worth of missed payments, but that the housing authority’s counterclaim labeled it a fraud.
     In its new lawsuit, filed on Sept. 16 in Queens County Supreme Court, the contractor wants damages for libel.
     Metropolitan calls the counterclaims “repugnant” and “absurd,” and says the housing authority compounded its damage by publicizing its filing to the tabloids.
     Just over a week after the third-party complaint’s filing, the Daily News ran the headline,
     “NYCHA Pays $8M to Crooked Scaffolding Firm, Now Sues for Full Refund.”
     Metropolitan says the article repeated the housing authority’s scurrilous allegations, damaging the contractor’s reputation and business relationships.
     Despite evidence Metropolitan has offered in its defense, it says the housing authority is sticking to its fraud story, having just filed a verified answer with counterclaims this past March.
     Metropolitan brought the new lawsuit along with its founders and former owners, Dimitrios Spanos and Ralph Ciaio. Spanos and Ciaio say they were defamed by the third-party complaint and article as well.
     They say the Daily News article was published in a “grossly irresponsible manner without consideration of the standards of information gathering and dissemination followed by responsible publishers, by citing to unknown ‘sources familiar with the matter.'”
     Also alleging that the article pulled in allegations not mentioned in the court filings, Metropolitan and its founders take aim at the claim that “5-year-old Laila Davis got a bad shock when one of Metropolitan’s scaffolds at the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn became electrified due to a lousy wiring job.”
     As it happens, Laila Davis sued the city and Metropolitan in 2013 about the electrical shock. That case was filed in Kings County Supreme Court.
     Representatives for the defendants have not returned requests for comment.
     Metropolitan and its founders are represented by Christopher Slowik with Klein Slowik in Manhattan.

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