Monday, March 22, 2010

Autograph Authenticator Looses Lawsuit

The HBO cable television channel won dismissal of a $5 million defamation lawsuit by a Brooklyn, New York handwriting expert. Frangipani, who claims he can authenticate autographs accused HBO television channel and "Real Sports" host Bryant Gumbel of tying him to an autograph forgery ring.

This weeks ruling by Manhattan U.S. District Judge George Daniels in federal court rejected claims by Donald Frangipani. Frangipani claims he has more than 40 years of experience in forensic documents. This experience supposedly includes authenticating sports autographs and other memorabilia by Babe Ruth, Tiger Woods and more.

HBO is a unit of Time Warner Inc.

In his 2008 lawsuit, Frangipani alleged that HBO violated New York State defamation law over a January 2006 "Real Sports" segment, "Forger's Paradise," in which the program portrayed him as an authenticator of choice for a forgery ring broken up by the FBI in 2000.

Frangipani also accused large authentication companies of violating federal antitrust and racketeering laws by conspiring to keep him out of the market.

Among the defendants were Gumbel, who hosted "Real Sports," as well as narrator Armen Keteyian and several producers.

In the 15-page decision, Judge Daniels said the plaintiff failed to show that the authentication companies violated federal antitrust and racketeering laws by scheming to freeze him out of the market, or that customers refused to use his authentication services.

Because Frangipani's federal claims were dismissed, Daniels declined to exercise jurisdiction over the state law defamation claim.

The case is Frangipani v. HBO et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 08-5675.

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