April 15, 2011 / 5:01 PM / 8 years ago

New York "monster-in-law" sues her son for defamation

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lia Joseph became known worldwide as “monster-in-law” last year, after the media seized on a lawsuit filed by her own son accusing her of trying to stop him from marrying his fiancee.

Now Joseph has filed a lawsuit of her own, alleging defamation and infliction of emotional distress and seeking more than $15 million in damages.

Her suit, filed this week in New York Supreme Court, claimed that her son, Denis Joseph, knew or should have known that his lawsuit would cause her to be savaged by the media.

Denis Joseph’s suit accused his mother of doing everything she could to separate him from his fiancee. When he got married anyway, his mother went on a “terroristic binge” against his business interests, he claimed.

Media outlets ranging from tabloids and blogs to popular television shows including “The View” couldn’t get enough of the story, Lia Joseph said in her complaint.

Her son’s lawsuit was riddled with “scurrilous, prejudicial and scandalous language” that was irrelevant and devised to humiliate, her complaint said.

Yet it may prove difficult for Lia Joseph to prevail on a count of defamation, because her son’s statements against her were part of a court document, said Dov Fischer, who teaches torts and civil procedure at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

“If you could sue a person for defamation based upon what he or she writes in a complaint, everybody would do it.”

Lia Joseph’s complaint also lists her son’s attorney, Arthur Russell, as a defendant. Reached by phone, Russell declined comment.

Lia Joseph’s attorney, Ezio Scaldaferri of Feder Kaszovitz LLP, did not return calls seeking comment.

Reporting by Jennifer Golson of Reuters Legal. Editing by Peter Bohan

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