News & Resources

Joseph Bierwirth Comments on SLAPP Suit Ruling in Fiduciary Suit

9/8/2021

In a recent decision, Superior Court Judge Heidi E. Brieger ruled that a defendant’s abuse of process counterclaim including alleged damages equal to his litigation fees was an unlawful SLAPP suit. Brieger found that the defendant, who was sued for misappropriating income from a family trust, could not demonstrate that his counterclaim was non-retaliatory. In the decision, Brieger said, “challenging the legitimacy [of the plaintiffs’] motive through a counterclaim like this one appears to be precisely what the anti-SLAPP statute is designed to curtail.”

Joseph L. Bierwirth, chair of the Litigation group at Hemenway & Barnes, was quoted in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s article on the decision, “Counterclaim in fiduciary case ruled SLAPP suit.

“It does seem plain that the abuse of process claim was added solely in an attempt to recover attorneys’ fees based on defending the plaintiffs’ original claims,” Bierwirth said, emphasizing that no other count in the defendant’s amended counterclaims would provide a direct route to recovery of fees. “As the judge notes, the case does seem to simply boil down to ‘which party is entitled to which money.’”

To read the full article, please click here: Counterclaim in fiduciary case ruled SLAPP suit

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