David H. Rich and Rebecca M. O’Brien persuaded a Superior Court judge to dismiss a defamation case under the Massachusetts statute prohibiting lawsuits filed in response to the exercise of constitutional free speech and petitioning rights.
The judge determined that the lawsuit alleging defamation and other claims was filed in retaliation against the firm’s client, a plastic surgeon, for raising with the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health possible regulatory violations by the plaintiff, a certified registered nurse and owner of a medical spa, related to her providing injectable medical treatments such as Botox and fillers without the proper licensure.
Following an investigation, the DPH determined that the plaintiff’s services did not violate any state regulations governing medical spas.
In dismissing the complaint for violating the anti-SLAPP statute, the judge found that the client’s report to the DPH was standard petitioning activity to a government agency, and it was based on objective facts. The fact that the DPH ultimately determined that the plaintiff had not violated state regulations did not lessen the constitutional protections for the client’s petitioning activity, the judge wrote in her opinion.
The judge also found that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was a quintessential SLAPP suit that was filed a mere two months following the conclusion of the DPH investigation, and that did not seek any damages other than those that stemmed from the investigation.
Mr. Rich, a partner in the firm, concentrates his practice on complex business and commercial litigation, First Amendment law, and employment law. Mr. Rich is quoted frequently in the media and regularly lectures on matters relating to defamation law, employment matters and trial practice.
Ms. O’Brien concentrates her practice on complex civil litigation matters, advocating for clients in the courtroom at trial, arguing pre-trial motions, and handling all phases of pre-trial discovery.