Turning to a 110-year-old precedent, the New York Court of Appeals last week threw out an $850,000 award to a plaintiff based on the republication in a local newspaper of libelous accusations made by a former business associate.

In a 6-1 ruling by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, the court concluded that Thomas Probst could not be held responsible for the publication by the Long Island newspaper Newsday in 2005 of accusations he had made in a 2002 letter to the Syosset Board of Fire Commissioners that Ronald Geraci had illegally profited from the sale of an emergency vehicle to Syosset.