HBO Lawyers Seek Dismissal of Frangipani Suit

The network which produced a segment on autograph authentication says a U.S. court should throw out the libel claim made by Donald Frangipani.

HBO filed papers in a New York federal court last week asking for the dismissal of a $5 million lawsuit filed against the network by autograph authenticator Donald Frangipani.

The suit was filed last month blaming the network, Real Sports host Bryant Gumbel, reporter Armen Keteyian and others for a decline in Frangipani’s business. It also alleges that other autograph authenticators had conspired to defame the New York-based forensic handwriting examiner.

The segment aired in January of 2006. It alleged that Frangipani authenticated thousands of non-genuine signatures, many for a forgery ring. Frangipani claims there is no evidence the autographs he stamped as genuine were fake.

Autographs carrying his certificate of authenticity have been banned by eBay.

HBO’s motion to dismiss suggests that the one year New York statute of limitations in such cases has expired and cites what it says are inaccurate claims by Frangipani that the segment has been aired numerous times since the winter of 2006. The network claims it has not aired the segment since February of that year.

Frangipani also names authenticators PSA/DNA, Richard Simon and James Spence in his suit, alleging 38 claims of conspiracy, fraud, interference, defamation and other charges. HBO says those claims have nothing to do with the network.

“Frangipani’s defamation claim against HBO is not even based on anything said or done by the other defendants – it is based on statements by the FBI, an interview with a member of the forgery ring and on actions allegedly taken by the HBO defendants,” attorneys for the network wrote in a 12-page motion to dismiss.

Update:  The lawsuit was dismissed on March 16, 2010