In an opinion today, Judge Vyskocil granted Fox News’s motion to dismiss a defamation claim centered on an episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight. In the episode, Carlson was responding to President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen having pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations for arranging to pay settlements to two women alleged to have had affairs with Trump. Carlson was critical of media suggestions that Trump should be impeached or held criminally responsible for the payments:

Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money. Now, that sounds like a classic case of extortion. Yet, for whatever reason, Trump caves to it, and he directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom. Now, more than two years later, Trump is a felon for doing this. It doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Judge Vyskocil ruled that, in context, this was not a literal accusation of extortion, but intended to frame the debate in the guest commentary segment that followed:
Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil: Tucker Carlson’s “Extortion” Jab Was Hyperbole, Not Defamation

In an opinion Monday, Judge Vyskocil denied a motion to force a partnership dispute over a medical practice to be arbitrated in a Jewish court (referred to in the opinion as either a “beis din” or “beth din”).  The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged that the plaintiffs were “religiously bound to bring their dispute in the first instance to a Beis Din” but were only pursing their claims in the district court “until such time as Defendants comply with the hazmanah,” the equivalent of a summons.

The defendants agreed that the parties were bound to bring their case before a Jewish court, but what has kept the case in the Southern District was the parties’ inability to agree as to which Jewish court should hear the case.  Absent consensus on that point, Judge Vyskocil ruled, there was no binding arbitration agreement under New York law:
Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil: New York Law, Not Jewish Law, Governs Whether Parties Agreed to Resolve Their Dispute Before Jewish Court

In an opinion this morning, Judge Vyskocil denied an application for a TRO by a Queens Republican who sought to have her name on the ballot for the June 23 primary.  The plaintiff’s complaint was focused on the fact that, due to the spread of COVID-19, New York had reduced the number of days available to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot.

Judge Vyskocil denied the application because (among other reasons) she found that the State’s interest in controlling COVID-19 met the standard of “reasonable and nondiscriminatory” necessary to justify the shorter time period, particularly given that the State also correspondingly reduced the number of signatures required:
Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil Denies Congressional Candidate TRO Arising from Reduction in Number of Days to Gather Signatures to Appear on Ballot