MARGARET J. REICHENBACH & another
TIMOTHY G. HAYDOCK & another.
Heard: September 6, 2017.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on October
special motion to dismiss was considered by Robert J. Kane,
J., and a motion for reconsideration was considered by him.
C. Perry for the defendants.
B. Feingold (Heidi A. Nadel also present) for the plaintiffs.
Present: Wolohojian, Agnes, & Wendlandt, JJ.
2008, the plaintiffs bought an oceanfront property with the
plan to demolish the existing house and build a new
residence. Two of the neighbors (the defendants, Timothy
Haydock and Barbara Moss) vigorously objected and are alleged
to have for years employed a variety of means -- some
petitioning activity within the meaning of the
"anti-SLAPP" statute, G. L. c. 231, § 59H,
some not -- designed to block the project. This suit arises
out of that campaign, which the plaintiffs allege deprived
them of their constitutional right to enjoy their property in
violation of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, G. L. c. 12,
§§ 11H and 111 (the MCRA) .
not here concerned with the merits of that claim. Instead, we
deal in this interlocutory appeal only with the denial of the
defendants' special motion to dismiss pursuant to the
anti-SLAPP statute. That motion was decided before
Blanchard v. Steward Carney Hosp., Inc., 477 Mass.
141 (2017), which was not handed down until after this appeal
was already pending. Despite the timing, Blanchard
applies,  and applying its approach to the first
prong of the Duracraft framework, see Duracraft
Corp. v. Holmes Prods. Corp., 427 Mass. 156,
167-168 (1998), we affirm.
the real estate involved in this case was once owned by Clara
Frothingham in the Nonquitt area of South Dartmouth, located
on the shores of Buzzards Bay. In 1979, the Frothingham land
was subdivided into eight lots, which were conveyed to
members of Frothingham's family. Defendant Timothy
Haydock (whom we are given to understand is part of the
Frothingham family) acquired one of those lots in 1991 (the
Haydock lot); he also has a one-sixth interest in another
family lot nearby (the Haydock family lot). Defendant Barbara
Moss, Haydock's long-term companion, lives with him on
the Haydock lot.
waterfront lot at issue here (the Reichenbach lot) was
purchased by the Reichenbachs in 2008 from the trustee of the
Frothingham Family Holding Trust. The Reichenbach lot is
adjacent to the family lot in which Haydock has an interest
and is also near (but not adjacent to) the lot where Haydock
and Moss live. When the Reichenbach lot was owned by a
member of the Frothingham family, Haydock and Moss had
permission to use its tennis court and its stairway to the
beach, leading Haydock to "regard[ the property] as part
of his 'family compound, ' and part of his
backyard." These accommodations stopped when the
Reichenbachs purchased the property.
the Reichenbachs' plan to demolish the existing house and
build a new summer home implicated the State's Wetlands
Protection Act and the town of Dartmouth wetlands protection
by-law, and required one or more building permits, there is
no indication in the record on appeal that the defendants
ever asserted that the Reichenbachs were required to obtain
either a special permit or a variance under the Dartmouth
zoning by-laws. Haydock and Moss opposed the project and,
over several years, repeatedly exercised their right to
petition to various State and local officials in a continuing
(and continuous) effort to block the Reichenbachs' plans.
Their extensive (and ultimately unsuccessful) petitioning
efforts are set out in the margin. The Reichenbachs claim that
none of the defendants' petitioning activities was
meritorious ab initio --a point that Moss and Haydock
vigorously dispute. In any event, none achieved the desired
aim of blocking the project.
same time, Haydock and Moss also allegedly waged their
campaign on different -- nonpetitioning -- fronts, including
obstruction, interference, and dissuasion. These efforts were
ongoing and serious, and we set them out in the margin only
to streamline this recitation and not to diminish their
significance. In the end, the defendants' campaign
was unsuccessful. ...