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Cardno Chemrisk, LLC v. Foytlin

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20029
Nos. SJC-12082, (Mass., 02/14/2017)

The Massachusetts Supreme Court held that a scientific consultant group hired to assess the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cannot proceed with a defamation suit against a pair of environmental advocates. The advocates, residents of the affected area, wrote an article that appeared in the Huffington Post, claiming among other things that the consultant group had engaged in deceptive tactics and provided erroneous data in an unrelated scientific study. The consultant group filed a defamation suit. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss under a state anti-SLAPP statute, asserting that the claim against them was based on their exercise of the right to petition and that they had a reasonable factual basis for their statements. The trial court disagreed, stating that the defendants were not engaging in protected petitioning because they were not seeking redress of their own grievance. The Supreme Court reversed, finding that the statute protects non-self-interested petitioning on behalf of the environment. The case was remanded to the lower court for entry of a judgment consistent with the opinion.