Seth J. Robbins and Stesha A. Emmanuel persuaded a Massachusetts Superior Court judge to dismiss a defamation complaint on the basis the alleged statements at issue were protected under the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute.
The Massachusetts anti-SLAPP law mandates dismissal of lawsuits based on statements that constitute "petitioning activities," which include statements made to a governmental body.
Mr. Robbins and Ms. Emmanuel successfully argued that their client engaged in petitioning activity when she answered questions during an interview with the plaintiff's employer, the U.S. Air Force, about an abuse prevention order she had previously obtained and ongoing concerns related to her safety.
The trial court judge agreed, writing that the "communications to the Air Force, a governmental agency investigating possible domestic violence and/or criminal activity, are … protected by the Anti-Slapp [law]."
The judge noted that the investigation conducted by the Air Force directly resulted from the restraining order, and that the firm's client "did not initiate the Air Force investigation and simply complied when the Air Force investigators sought to interview her regarding her experiences with the plaintiff."
As a result of the dismissal order, Robbins' and Emmanuel's client is entitled to her reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.
Mr. Robbins, a partner at the firm, specializes in handling complex civil and criminal litigation in state and federal courts. Ms. Emmanuel is an associate at the firm and concentrates her practice on business and civil litigation matters.