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DeMayo v. Quinn

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Berkshire

February 24, 2015

Carol DeMayo
v.
David Quinn

Argued: November 3, 2014

Complaint for protection from harassment filed in the Northern Berkshire Division of the District Court Department on December 13, 2013.

The case was heard by Michael J. Ripps, J.

Mark J. Pasquariello for the defendant.

Present: Green, Wolohojian, & Blake, JJ.

OPINION

Blake, J.

[25 N.E.3d 904] On December 17, 2013, following an ex parte hearing, a harassment prevention order (order) was issued against the defendant pursuant to G. L. c. 258E. A further evidentiary hearing was held, at which the plaintiff testified, and the order was extended for one year. The defendant appeals from the extension of the order, claiming that his conduct was neither " willful or malicious," nor " aimed at a specific person," as required by the statute. We agree as to the latter point, and accordingly vacate the order.

1. Background.

The undisputed facts are as follows. The plaintiff owns a horse boarding facility; she also resides at the same property with her husband. In late August, 2013, the plaintiff discovered that particular items in the horse barn either were missing or had been rearranged. When the episodes continued, and a horse's allergy medication and needles disappeared, the

Page 116

plaintiff set up a video camera and contacted the police. The police then set up their own surveillance camera, which captured an unauthorized individual, eventually identified as the defendant, engaging in various activities inside the barn on five different occasions. The videotape recording of those incidents showed the defendant taking items from the barn's refrigerator, rearranging hay bales, and throwing items into a horse's stall.[1] Although the plaintiff is not the legal owner of the horse involved, the facility was responsible for its care.

2. Legal requirements.

" An Act relative to harassment prevention orders," codified as G. L. c. 258E, was enacted to (1) provide protection to victims of sexual assault, stalking, and criminal harassment that is unavailable under the domestic [25 N.E.3d 905] abuse prevention law, G. L. c. 209A; and (2) make violations of these orders punishable as a crime. Seney v. Morhy, 467 Mass. 58, 60, 3 N.E.3d 577 (2014).[2] In order to obtain a c. 258E order, a plaintiff must demonstrate that she is suffering from harassment. " Harassment," insofar as relevant here, is defined as " [three] or more acts of willful and malicious conduct aimed at a specific person committed with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or ...


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