Posts tagged "1102016"

Blanchard, et al. v. Steward Carney Hospital, Inc., et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-020-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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   14-P-717                                        Appeals Court   LYNNE BLANCHARD & others[1]  vs.  STEWARD CARNEY HOSPITAL, INC., & others.[2]     No. 14-P-717. Suffolk.     January 14, 2015. – February 24, 2016.   Present:  Katzmann, Sullivan, & Blake, JJ.     “Anti-SLAPP” Statute.  Constitutional Law, Right to petition government.  Practice, Civil, Standing, Motion to dismiss.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on May 24, 2013.   A special motion to dismiss was heard by Linda E. Giles, J.     Jeffrey A. Dretler (Katharine A. Crawford & Joseph W. Ambash with him) for the defendants. Dahlia C. Rudavsky for the plaintiffs.     KATZMANN, J.  In this case we consider whether the defendants’ special motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ defamation claim pursuant to G. L. c. 231, § 59H, widely known as the “anti-SLAPP”[3] statute, was properly denied.  The central question is whether, during a period of crisis when Steward Carney Hospital (Carney Hospital or hospital) faced the loss of its license to operate an in-patient adolescent psychiatric unit (unit) because of purported patient abuse and neglect, statements quoted in a newspaper made by the president of the hospital, and an electronic mail message (e-mail) the president sent to hospital staff announcing the dismissal of unnamed employees in the unit under review, constituted protected petitioning activity.  A judge in the Superior Court denied the motion because she found that the statements upon which the claim was based did not qualify as protected petitioning activity and, therefore, the defendants could not seek protection of the anti-SLAPP statute.  We conclude that the statements quoted in the newspaper constitute protected petitioning activity, but that the internal e-mail does not.  Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part. Background.  The key facts of this case, as derived from the judge’s decision below, the newspaper articles at issue, affidavits by those involved in the investigation, testimony in a related arbitration proceeding (see note 4, infra), and relevant reports, are as follows.  The plaintiffs are all registered nurses (RNs) who had been working in the unit for a number of years.  In April, 2011, complaints were made concerning four incidents of alleged patient abuse or neglect within the unit.  None of the alleged incidents involved abuse or neglect of a patient by any of the plaintiffs (or any other RN).  The incidents were reported to the Department of […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - February 24, 2016 at 8:22 pm

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