June 10, 1985
Appeal from the Supreme Court, Kings County (Jones, J.).
Order reversed, on the law, with costs, motion for summary judgment granted, and complaint dismissed.
Plaintiff commenced the instant action specifically alleging that a certain letter written to him by the individual defendant, an attorney in the legal department of the corporate defendant, contained libelous statements. However, a plaintiff suing in libel, who does not adequately plead or prove special damages, as in the instant case, must establish that the defamatory statements "`"tend * * * to expose the plaintiff to public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace, or induce an evil opinion of him in the minds of right-thinking persons, and to deprive him of their friendly intercourse in society"'" ( Matherson v. Marchello, 100 A.D.2d 233, 236, quoting from Rinaldi v. Holt, Rinehart Winston, 42 N.Y.2d 369, 379, cert denied 434 U.S. 969, quoting further from Sydney v. Macfadden Newspaper Pub. Corp., 242 N.Y. 208, 211-212). The challenged letter herein is simply a business communication concerning plaintiff's failure to pay an alleged debt; the statements complained of fall short of defamation as a matter of law ( cf. Moran v. Hearst Corp., 40 N.Y.2d 1071, 1072; James v. Gannett Co., 40 N.Y.2d 415, rearg denied 40 N.Y.2d 990). Moreover, since the record is barren of any evidence tending to show that plaintiff's reputation in the community has been diminished as a result of the letter, and in fact, plaintiff acknowledged at his pretrial deposition that the letter did not cause him to suffer any ridicule from third parties, the first cause of action seeking to recover damages for libel must be dismissed.
Plaintiff's second cause of action seeking damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress must also fail, since plaintiff does not present any evidence that defendants are guilty of conduct "`so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community'" ( Murphy v. American Home Prods. Corp., 58 N.Y.2d 293, 303, quoting from Restatement [Second] of Torts § 46  comment d). Moreover, it would be improper to allow plaintiff to evade the specific prerequisites for a libel action by presenting his cause of action in terms of the generalized tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress ( see, Murphy v. American Home Prods. Corp., supra, p 303; see also, Terwilliger v. Wands, 17 N.Y. 54; Wilson v. Goit, 17 N.Y. 442). Mangano, J.P., Gibbons, Brown and Lawrence, JJ., concur.