Excerpted from the Boston Business Journal article by Jessica Bartlett, June 2, 2021
The Massachusetts Appeals Court has sided with the owner of a Haverhill marijuana store in a decision that will allow the dispensary’s lawsuit against its neighbors to move forward.
A lawsuit, filed under the state’s “anti-SLAPP statutes,” alleged that Stem store owner Caroline Pineau had sued the dispensary’s neighbors, Brad Brooks and Lloyd Jennings, to prevent them from legally objecting to her marijuana store.
The statute stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” and is intended to prevent people from limiting public discourse through lawsuits.
The court ruled that Pineau’s lawsuit wasn’t retribution to prevent public discourse, but a response to alleged threats and coercion she had endured from Brooks and Jennings.
The attorneys for defendants Brooks and Jennings — Scott Schlager, of Pierce Atwood, and Alvin Nathanson, of Nathanson & Goldberg — said in a combined statement that the decision violates the free speech rights of their clients who were trying to negotiate.
“Today’s Appeals Court decision is unprecedented and deeply troubling in so far as it hampers settlement negotiations,” the attorneys said. “Restricting what one can say or do during settlement talks discourages compromise and could spawn further litigation. Our Clients are evaluating seeking further appellate review from the SJC.”
The full article can be found on the Boston Business Journal website.