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Amicus · Victory · Final Disposition on March 25, 2014

Town of Hanover v. New England Regional Council of Carpenters

GLAD joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLUM), the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the Massachusetts Fair Wage Campaign (MFWC) on an amicus brief submitted to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in this case concerning the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute. 

The anti-SLAPP statute provides special protective procedures when someone feels that they have been sued for the exercise of their right to petition the government.

In the case in question, the Town of Hanover sued a labor union, New England Council of Carpenters (NERC) for its prior petitioning activities, alleging that NERC had previously organized its members to bring an action against the Town over the potentially illegal award of a $40 million high school construction contract.  When the Union then invoked the anti-SLAPP statute to protect its prior petitioning activities and to dismiss the Town’s case against it, the Superior Court said that it did not get the protection of the statute because the Union was not one of the named parties in the prior high school construction case. 

This decision raised alarm bells among advocacy groups – such as ACLUM, CLF, MFWC and GLAD - which frequently organize litigation without being the actual litigant. The joint amicus brief focused on the way that such groups petition the government and why those activities fall within the protection of the statute.

On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court on March 25 adopted the result advocated by GLAD and the other amici, holding that one does not have to be the named party in prior litigation to get the protection of the statute and also holding that groups like GLAD, ACLUM, MFWC and CLF were intended to be protected in their petitioning activities.  

GLAD board member, Attorney Rich Yurko, an expert in the area of anti-SLAPP litigation, drafted the amicus brief submitted on behalf of the advocacy organizations.