A Superior Court judge recently ruled homeowners in Westerly, Rhode Island, seeking remedy for alleged nuisance from a neighboring quarry operation have the right to do so.
When two families filed a lawsuit against quarry owner, Westerly Granite Inc, the quarry operators, Armetta LLC, formerly known as Copar Quarries LLC, and the subconstractor Maine Drilling and Blasting, Westerly Granite responded with a counter complaint.
Westerly Granite alleged it does not have a role in the quarry operations conducted by Armetta – it’s just a landlord. The company alleged that the homeowners’ complaints were defamatory and interfering with its ability to do business among a few other things.
Joelle Rocha said the judge didn’t think so. Rocha represents the two families suing these companies. She said the homeowners’ complaints are protected under a specific statute called the Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation Law, commonly known as the Anti-SLAPP statute.
“We’ll go forward [with the lawsuit] trying to prove our claims of nuisance and whatever else we’ve alleged,” said Rocha. “And they’ll just have to defend that. We won’t be defending claims from them.”
The judge wrote: “Under the Anti-SLAPP statute, a party is conditionally immune from civil claims, cross-claims, and counterclaims, while exercising ‘his or her right of petition or of free speech under the United States or Rhode Island constitutions in connection with a matter of public concern.'”
The judge also ruled that Westerly Granite has to pay these families their attorney fees and any other expenses associated with defending themselves from Westerly Granite’s counterclaim. The lawyer representing Westerly Granite did not respond to an interview request.