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Statue of Themis, an ancient Greek personification of law and justice, in Brisbane (photo by Rae Allen/Flickr)

In December 2018, a New York State Supreme Court judge dismissed former Artforum employee Amanda Schmitt’s lawsuit against Knight Landesman, co-owner and former publisher of Artforum magazine, for alleged defamation and slander after she accused him of sexual harassment. Today, January 23, Schmitt’s attorney, Emily Reisbaum, said they would be filing a notice of appeal combatting the judge’s motion.

Schmitt’s original lawsuit, filed in October 2017, says that during her employment at Artforum Landesman “singled [Schmitt] out for unwelcome sexual attention” including “touching her, uninvited, on her hips, shoulders, buttocks, hands and neck.” However, Schmitt’s employment with Artforum ended in 2012, and the statute of limitations for her case against Landesman had expired by 2017.

Instead, Schmitt launched a legal case against Landesman for confronting her about her allegations in May 2017, and against Artforum for breaching their promise to protect her against Landesman’s continued advances. Just hours after Schmitt’s lawsuit was filed, Landesman resigned as publisher of Artforum. (However, as Hyperallergic noted in a February 2018 article, Landesman is still a co-owner of Artforum.)

Schmitt said that Landesman continued to harass her, through email and in person, after she terminated her employment at the publication. In June 2016, Schmitt sent Landesman a text message saying: “You have been sexually harassing me since 2012 and continue to do so. I want it to stop.”

Schmitt’s lawsuit details the May 2017 incident in which he allegedly berated her in a restaurant, calling her a liar. Schmitt calls his speech against her slander. However, New York Supreme Court Justice Frank P. Nervo ruled that Landesman had confronted Schmitt in a “purely social setting” in which he was allowed to defend himself.

Schmitt’s appeal argues that Judge Nervo’s dismissal can be undermined based on New York City Human Rights Law. Her attorney says that since Landesman was a public representative at Artforum, he was operating on its behalf at the time of his confrontation, and as a former employee, Schmitt is protected.

Artnet reports that Schmitt’s lawyers will file a brief with the appeal’s complete arguments in the coming months.

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Jasmine Weber

Jasmine Weber is Hyperallergic's news editor. She is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, particularly interested in Black art histories and visual culture....