PATERSON, N.J. (CN) – A real estate company claims ABC News defamed it by “concocting” a story that it was “ripping off investors” and that company owners had ties to felons. The plaintiffs claim ABC set up a phony scene by reporting false accusations to the Fire Department and filming its response to give “the perception that the officials were responding independently.”
Plaintiffs Casey Properties and Seth and Martin Gendel accuse ABC and its reporter Sarah Wallace of libel, defamation and trespassing: reporting inaccurately about the business and conspiring to orchestrate a misleading news report.
The plaintiffs say the ABC defendants conducted their own “independent inspection” of a property for the purpose of “orchestrating, concocting and creating a story.” They say the news network then called the Totowa Fire Department and reported violations that ABC claimed to have found during its impromptu inspection. When the fire crew arrived, the network filmed it as a backdrop for the story, to give “the perception that the officials were responding independently,” according to the complaint in Passaic County Court.
The plaintiffs say ABC accused them of “ripping off investors” and said the owners had ties to felons. Plaintiffs say both statements are misleading, and were based on documents that were stolen by its former employees.
The plaintiffs are represented by Demetrios Stratis of Fair Lawn, N.J.