Grade: C

Massachusetts has an adequate anti-SLAPP law. It was enacted in 1994.  However, a 2017 Mass. Supreme Judicial Court case suggests there’s a bit more flexibility to the state's anti-SLAPP law than once thought.  

Jurisdiction Statute or Case Law? Any Forum? Any Public Issue? Mandatory Attorney Fees/Costs? Additional Burden? Amendment After Grant? Amendment While Pending? Immediate Appeal?
Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231 section 59H (2011) Y Y ? Y7 Y

7 Yes, a pleading can be amended while an anti-SLAPP motion is pending, but denying leave to amend is proper “when the proposed claim will not withstand a motion to dismiss, thus rendering amendment futile.”


MASS. GEN. LAWS ANN. ch. 231 § 59H (1994)

Statements made before a government body or proceeding; or in connection with issue under consideration by a government body; or reasonably likely to encourage consideration or review by a government body; or reasonably likely to enlist public participation in an effort to effect such consideration; or any other statement falling within the constitutional right to petition government, are protected.

In January of 2009, Senator Creem introduced an amendment to strengthen the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP law by making its provisions explicitly apply to journalists.  The bill (SB1618) was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee where there has been no further action taken.

For the first time in April, a Massachusetts court dismissed a suit brought against a newspaper.  Previously, Massachusetts courts had held that the state’s anti-SLAPP law did not apply to any speech that was conducted for commercial gain.

Fustolo v. Hollander, No. SJC-10485
However, a case that reached the opposite conclusion, Fustolo v. Hollander, is currently on appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, with oral arguments set for November 2.  In that case, the appeals court denied an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against a journalist because it found that the journalist had written the article at issue as a paid employee of a newspaper, and not as a concerned citizen.  The Citizen Media Law Project, Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic, ACLU of Massachusetts, and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association have jointly submitted an amicus brief in favor of extending the protections of the Massachusetts law to journalists.

For a comprehensive discussion of the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP law and compendium of cases, please see the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library Anti-SLAPP page.

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