Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Massachusetts Racetrack 'SLAPPed' with Legal Costs for Lame Libel Suit

Harness racing
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Plainridge Racecourse, d/b/a Ourway Realty, has dropped its appeal of a Norfolk County Superior Court judge's dismissal of its defamation suit against a Plainville (Mass.) opponent of slot machine gambling at the harness racing track and will pay the defendant's attorneys fees of almost $25,000 pursuant to the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute [M.G.L. c. 231, sec. 59H], the Attleboro Sun Chronicle reported.

The libel case, Ourway Realty, LLC v. Thomas Keen (Case No. 12-cv-00963), was brought by the track against the Plainville resident, who maintained a Web site and Facebook page advocating against adding slot machines at the track, based on a poster's comment on the Web site regarding a home-security photo of an intruder that police should search the race track to find the burglar. The ACLU of Massachusetts, through private counsel, successfully argued a motion to dismiss the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute, which states in relevant part: "In any case in which a party asserts that the civil claims, counterclaims or cross claims against said party are based on said party's exercise of its right of petition under the constitution of the United States or of the commonwealth, said party may bring a special motion to dismiss."

The Sun Chronicle article reported that the plaintiff would pay the defendant's legal costs, but that no damages were assessed against the race track.
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