First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
 
Maine high court: Anti-SLAPP law precludes defamation suit

By The Associated Press
03.25.08

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has struck down a defamation lawsuit filed against a former legislator from Frankfort who claimed that the plaintiff was using the court system to try to stifle free speech in a political debate.

The case stemmed from a letter that R. Kenneth Lindell sent to the Republican Journal in Belfast in 2006 in response to a critic's letter taking him to task for his stance on legislation.

Lindell's letter suggested that Joyce Schelling of Orland backed the bill, which he opposed, because she could have benefited financially from it. In her lawsuit, Schelling claimed Lindell's letter caused her embarrassment, anxiety and loss of sleep and concentration.

Lindell sought dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds that it violated Maine's so-called anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation statute. Known as the Anti-SLAPP Law, the measure is intended to protect a citizen's right to directly or indirectly petition the government through public discourse.

In his letter, Lindell had suggested that Schelling used her "political clout" as a member of the Natural Resources Council of Maine to promote the bill so companies like her employer, Recycled Office Products, could benefit by procuring purchasing contracts with the state.

Lindell applauded the March 20 ruling in Schelling v. Lindell. "For the stress and expense this has put my family through, I'm glad we've been able to contribute something to protect the First Amendment," he said.

Schelling, who had called Lindell's letter to the editor a "nasty, personal attack," expressed disappointment. She said Lindell prevailed in a narrow legal argument about the anti-SLAPP statute and whether the letter had caused her any economic injury.

Lindell, who served two years in the House, said the lawsuit likely played a role in his defeat. He said the high court decision "won't hurt" his bid to win the District 41 seat back this year.


Related

Federal court dismisses suit against Ind. TV station

Canadian pharmacy-benefits company had claimed it was defamed by WISH-TV report, but judge rules station is protected by state's anti-SLAPP law. 06.10.08

Neb. court throws out jury award in hog-farm case
Defamation case brings first appellate review of state law meant to eliminate lawsuits aimed at stopping people from taking part in government proceedings. 09.18.08

SLAPP suits


News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print


Last system update: Monday, September 22, 2008 | 18:33:07
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

First Reports
Supreme Court
Experts
Columnists
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Sings™
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links