Sara Bronfman-Igtet, through her New York attorneys, has admitted that Keith Raniere’s claims of superintelligence are “improbable statements”, “puffery,” and “incapable of being proven.”
Her admissions contained in a memorandum of law used to support her motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed against her in New York State Supreme Court.
Last year, attorney Omar Rosales brought a civil lawsuit on behalf of former Nxivm students and against Bronfman-Igtet – on the grounds that she participated in the deception of students by supporting Raniere’s bogus claims that he:
1) Was one of the World’s Smartest Men;
2) Began talking in complete sentences by age one;
3) Was an East Coast Judo Champion at age twelve;
4) Tied the New York State record for the 100-yard dash in High School; and
5) Had a very rare problem-solving ability that allowed him to create a curriculum to assist others with their business projects.
In her memorandum of law, Bronfman-Igtet’s lawyers, John J. McDonough and Rachel H. Bevans, of the New York City law firm of Cozen O’Connell, claim no one should have believed Raniere, writing:
“A reasonable consumer would not have made the decision to purchase the ESP courses solely based upon vague, improbable statements that the course director is ‘one of the smartest men in the world’ or ‘had a rare and unique problem-solving ability’ or that he was speaking in full sentences by age one. Indeed, such statements are ‘puffery,’ incapable of being proven, and are not actionable…Nor would a reasonable consumer have made the decision to purchase the ESP courses based upon irrelevant details such as winning a race in high school or being a young judo champion…For these reasons, Plaintiffs’ GBL claims should be dismissed.”
In law, puffery is a promotional statement or claim that is subjective rather than objective, which no “reasonable person” would take literally.
Bronfman-Igtet’s lawyers cited case law [Serrano v. Cablevision Systems Corp., E.D.N.Y. 2012] to support their claim that Raniere’s “puffery” is not grounds for a lawsuit.
Quoting from the decision, they write, “‘To the extent that Plaintiffs allege that Cablevision mislead them by falsely representing that its service provides “High-Speed Internet,” “Faster Internet,” and “blazing fast speed” and that “Optimum Online’s lightning-fast Internet access takes the waiting out of the Web,” these statements constitute puffery and are not actionable under § 349(a)'”.
Rosales’ lawsuit against Bronfman seeks to recover class fees and tuition paid by plaintiffs and others who paid for Executive Success Program (ESP) and NXIVM classes – as well as damages.
The response from Bronfman-Igtet’s attorneys seems reasonable in terms of defending her against the claims being asserted by Omar Rosales. But it also seems to be a tacit admission that she herself may not have believed the very claims that she was asserting to potential recruits in her role as a NXIVM Coach and recruiter.