Back to All Press Release

NYCLU Agrees To Defend Queens Artist Sued By Duane Reade For Newspaper Ad Critical Of Drugstore

The New York Civil Liberties Union has agreed to represent Patrick Clark, a Queens artist who on April 22 was sued by drugstore giant Duane Reade because of an opinion piece that Mr. Clark published in his local newspaper.

Mr. Clark has been chosen to create a memorial to Rockaway residents killed in the World Trade Center attack that is to be placed in a public park in Rockaway. Across the street from the park, Duane Reade is building a store that is to feature a large lighted billboard on the store’s roof. In his March 23 advertisement, which was entitled “Take Down the Sign!!!/Boycott Duane Reade,” Mr. Clark criticized Duane Reade for its planned billboard and urged community members to boycott the drugstore if Duane Reade insisted on putting up the billboard.

In late April Mr. Clark was served with a lawsuit prepared by the major Manhattan law firm of Shearman & Sterling on behalf of Duane Reade. The lawsuit complained that Mr. Clark’s ad was “defamatory per se” because it “ascribed moral turpitude to Duane Reade and its management, suggested that the company is greedy and seeks to manipulate its customers, and suggested that the company is a poor corporate citizen and neighbor.” It seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys fees against Mr. Clark and against the neighborhood paper that published his ad, The Wave.

Earlier this week the NYCLU wrote to Duane Reade’s attorneys demanding that they withdraw the lawsuit. The NYCLU letter charged that the lawsuit was “so without merit that is appears to be little more than an effort to intimidate Mr. Clark and to punish him for engaging in entirely protected advocacy.” On May 7, Duane Reade’s lawyers informed the NYCLU that they intended to proceed with the lawsuit. A copy of the NYCLU letter is linked below.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said, “The Duane Reade lawsuit is an appalling attack on the right of free expression. We will vigorously defend Mr. Clark against this baseless effort to intimidate him from expressing his views about an important matter of concern to the Rockaway community.”

Click here to read the NYCLU’s letter to Duane Reade’s attorneys.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
© 2024 New York
Civil Liberties Union