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Town of Hanover v. New England Regional Council of Carpenters (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-057-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750;  (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us     SJC‑11396   TOWN OF HANOVER  vs.  NEW ENGLAND REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS.     Plymouth.     December 2, 2013.  ‑  March 25, 2014. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.   “Anti‑SLAPP” Statute.  Constitutional Law, Right to petition government.  Abuse of Process.  Labor.  Practice, Civil, Motion to dismiss, Standing.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on October 6, 2011.   A special motion to dismiss was heard by Robert C. Cosgrove, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Christopher N. Souris for the defendant. James A. Toomey for the plaintiff. Richard J. Yurko, Noemi A. Kawamoto, Sarah R. Wunsch, Audrey R. Richardson, & Susan Reid, for American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts & others, amici curiae, submitted a brief.     IRELAND, C.J.  This case presents an issue of first impression:  whether an association that has provided support for litigation, without being a named party in that litigation, has engaged in protected petitioning activities for the purposes of G. L. c. 231, § 59H.  The defendant, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, appeals from a Superior Court judge’s denial of its special motion to dismiss a suit by the town of Hanover (town) claiming that the defendant engaged in abuse of process in prior legal proceedings.[1]  Because we conclude that support of litigation constitutes protected petitioning activity within the meaning of G. L. c. 231, § 59H, and that here, the town did not demonstrate that the defendant’s right to petition was “devoid of any reasonable factual support or any arguable basis in law,” Office One, Inc. v. Lopez, 437 Mass. 113, 123 (2002), we allow the defendant’s special motion to dismiss. 1.  Prior litigation.  We begin by briefly discussing certain events relevant to the defendant’s special motion to dismiss.  In May, 2009, the town engaged in an open bidding process for the construction of the town’s new high school.  Fordyce v. Hanover, 457 Mass. 248, 251-252 (2010) (Fordyce).  The town awarded the contract to the contractor with the lowest formal bid, following which a subcontractor who was not involved in the winning contract filed a bid protest with the Attorney General.  Id. at 252.  After an investigation of the town’s bidding process and award of the contract, the Attorney General found that the contractor who […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm

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