An investor will have tofend off a civil suit for libel over a letter he wrote to a would-be buyerof a New Jersey steelmaker suggesting that the acquisition target had tiesto organized crime, a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice has ruled.Rejecting the defendant’smotion to dismiss the case, Justice Leland DeGrasse, in New Jersey SteelCorp. v. Lutin, Index No. 103400/96, said that the plaintiffs had madeout a case that the investor’s letter contained possibly false defamatorystatements, and that the author of the letter acted with the intent toharm.

The libel case stems froma takeover bid by the defendant investor’s company for the steel manufacturer.The takeover attempt was thwarted by the steel company’s Swiss-based parent,Von Roll Holding Co. Von Roll is a plaintiff along with its subsidiary,New Jersey Steel Corp.While New Jersey Steel wasin play, defendant Gary Lutin, the head of the investor group behind thetakeover, wrote a letter to Von Roll’s controlling shareholder, allegingthat New Jersey Steel was in “parlous financial health” and involved indealings with organized crime figures.

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