District Judge Edgardo Ramos

 

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In addition to being CEO and president of Zero Int’l Inc., Wexler had majority ownership interests in the coplaintiff Zero enterprises. Under an agreement with Allegion (UK) Ltd.’s vice president Mehrotra, he agreed to Zero Int’l's acquisition by Allegion and its codefendant. A formal Feb. 13, 2015, employment offer included, among other things, a provision for a lump-sum payment upon involuntary termination. Wexler worked from April 1, 2015 until Sept.17, 2015. He refused to sign defendants’ letter confirming his entitlement to $175,000 for termination without cause if he signed a contract that included a general release and other conditions affecting his rights. Only partly granting dismissal of Counts I, II, III, IV and VII of Wexler’s complaint, the court allowed Wexler to proceed on his defamation claim and granted him leave to replead his age discrimination claims. Certain Zero entities were allowed to replead their breach of distributor contract claim. Wexler alleged all four elements of a claim for defamation under New York law. Further, because certain allegedly defamatory statements may be found to be based on false facts within defendants’ knowledge, those statements may be actionable even if they were merely expressions of opinion.