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Media & Communications Law

N.Y. Lawyer: Fictional Persona Libels Me

Posted Mar 19, 2008 6:57 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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An unusual libel case filed by a New York lawyer over a fictional portrayal in a television show of an attorney he says is recognizable as himself has surmounted its first hurdle.

A judge has denied a motion to dismiss the case filed by Ravi Batra, putting his claim that a November 2003 episode of Law & Order libeled him en route to trial, reports the City Room blog of the New York Times.

The unsavory character in the Law & Order episode was also named "Ravi"—at the time the episode aired, he was one of only six lawyers in the state with that first name, Batra said—and none of the other "Ravis" share the physical traits and he and the character have in common, he contends.

To win, he must show the resemblance between the real and fictional Ravis is so close that the defamatory material is a "plausible aspect" of the plaintiff's actual life, according to the ruling this week by State Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Shafer, sitting in Manhattan.

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