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09.29.2016

Cross Nadel LLC founder Heidi A. Nadel quoted by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about federal district court judge's anti-SLAPP decision and Seventh Amendment.

The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly today in its article, "Federal judge weighs anti-SLAPP ‘burden’ Cites conflict with right to jury trial" quoted Cross Nadel LLC attorney Heidi A. Nadel about federal district court Judge Young's September 22 decision in High Tech Pharms., Inc. v. Cohen that the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute, as interpreted by the Supreme Judicial Court, violates the Seventh Amendment right to jury trial in federal court.

 

The case, filed in federal district court in Boston, is a lawsuit for libel and slander filed by a dietary supplement maker against a Harvard doctor who raised safety concerns about the supplements. The doctor moved to dismiss based on the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute, G.L. c. 231, section 59H. The Court, on its own initiative, raised Seventh Amendment concerns and asked for briefing on whether the applying the anti-SLAPP statute as interpreted by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violates the federal right to trial by jury in civil cases under the Seventh Amendment.

After hearing, the Court concluded that it did, significantly lessened the burden on a non-moving party (here, the plaintiff) to demonstrate that petitioning activity was without basis in law or fact. As the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reported, "That is a move in the right direction, said Quincy attorney Heidi A. Nadel. Previously, the burden on the nonmoving party has been illogically high, as [Maine's highest Court] discussed in Nader [v. Maine's Democratic Party regarding the Maine anti-SLAPP statute]."

The article continued, "In essence, Nadel said, plaintiffs have been asked at step two of the antiSLAPP test to come up with evidence or an argument that completely destroys" the validity of the petitioning activity."    
 

To read more about Judge Young's decision, read our 2016 Anti-SLAPP Round up on our Mass Appeals blog. For more updates subscribe now.