COURTS, JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND PROCEEDINGS IN CIVIL CASES
ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS THEREIN
PLEADING AND PRACTICE
Strategic litigation against public participation; special motion to dismiss
Section 59H. In any case in which a party asserts that the civil claims, counterclaims, or cross claims against said party are based on said party's exercise of its right of petition under the constitution of the United States or of the commonwealth, said party may bring a special motion to dismiss. The court shall advance any such special motion so that it may be heard and determined as expeditiously as possible. The court shall grant such special motion, unless the party against whom such special motion is made shows that: (1) the moving party's exercise of its right to petition was devoid of any reasonable factual support or any arguable basis in law and (2) the moving party's acts caused actual injury to the responding party. In making its determination, the court shall consider the pleadings and supporting and opposing affidavits stating the facts upon which the liability or defense is based.
The attorney general, on his behalf or on behalf of any government agency or subdivision to which the moving party's acts were directed, may intervene to defend or otherwise support the moving party on such special motion.
All discovery proceedings shall be stayed upon the filing of the special motion under this section; provided, however, that the court, on motion and after a hearing and for good cause shown, may order that specified discovery be conducted. The stay of discovery shall remain in effect until notice of entry of the order ruling on the special motion.
Said special motion to dismiss may be filed within sixty days of the service of the complaint or, in the court's discretion, at any later time upon terms it deems proper.
If the court grants such special motion to dismiss, the court shall award the moving party costs and reasonable attorney's fees, including those incurred for the special motion and any related discovery matters. Nothing in this section shall affect or preclude the right of the moving party to any remedy otherwise authorized by law.
As used in this section, the words ''a party's exercise of its right of petition'' shall mean any written or oral statement made before or submitted to a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or any other governmental proceeding; any written or oral statement made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or any other governmental proceeding; any statement reasonably likely to encourage consideration or review of an issue by a legislative, executive, or judicial body or any other governmental proceeding; any statement reasonably likely to enlist public participation in an effort to effect such consideration; or any other statement falling within constitutional protection of the right to petition government.