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Maine: Defamation suit dismissed under anti-SLAPP law

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  1. Libel and Privacy
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court dismissed on March 20 a defamation lawsuit filed against a former state representative who argued…

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court dismissed on March 20 a defamation lawsuit filed against a former state representative who argued that his free speech rights were being violated.

Joyce Schelling filed the lawsuit in 2006 against then-Rep. Kenneth Lindell, who represented District 41 in the Maine House of Representatives. The suit stemmed from a pair of letters to the Republican Journal, initiated by Schelling, who criticized Lindell for not supporting a particular law. 

Lindell fired back, claiming that Schelling only backed the bill because “it was designed to line the pockets of special interest groups who seek to financially gain at the expense of Maine’s overburdened taxpayers.”  He also suggested that Schelling used her “political clout” to “garner special status for her own employer” — one of the interest groups that would benefit from the law.

Schelling sued for defamation, alleging that Lindell’s letter was embarrassing and caused her anxiety and loss of sleep. Soon after, Lindell filed a motion to dismiss under Maine’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) statute, claiming the lawsuit violated his First Amendment right to free speech.