Steinmetz v. Coyle & Caron, Inc., No. 16-1996 (1st Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs were prevented from building a new home by the Cohasset Conservation Commission. Plaintiffs brought this action against Defendant, a Florida landscape design firm that was hired by the attorney representing the neighborhood association formed to oppose the construction of Plaintiffs’ proposed home. Defendant assisted in the association’s opposition by producing and presenting renderings of Plaintiffs’ proposed home to the Commission. The federal district court ruled in Defendant’s favor on all counts, granting Defendant’s special motion to dismiss under the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute and also granting, in the alternative, Defendant’s motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The First Circuit certified a question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court regarding whether Defendant could avail itself of the special motion provision under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231, 59H. The court then held that, if the anti-SLAPP statute applies to Defendant, then Plaintiffs’ negligence, gross negligence, and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A claims must also be dismissed under the special motion, leaving only Plaintiffs’ defamation claim for further consideration by the district court under the special motion.