A defamation lawsuit by North End developer Steven Fustolo against local reporter Fredda Hollander was dropped this week as both sides agreed to dismiss all claims.
The lawsuit originally alleged defamation based on several articles Hollander wrote for the Regional Review, a local newspaper serving Boston’s North End community. The articles in question reported on development activities planned by plaintiff Steven Fustolo and meetings of community groups that opposed his plans. Hollander was the editor, and writer for the North End News which she founded after leaving the Regional Review. The North End News halted publishing about two years ago.
In his complaint, Fustolo alleged that as a result of Hollander’s articles, widespread neighborhood opposition developed in connection with two of his projects, as a result of which Fustolo felt compelled to withdraw applications for variances then pending before the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals.
Hollander denied that she had defamed Fustolo and asserted that her articles fairly and accurately reported the activities described. She also sought protection under the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute, but lost her appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court in February 2010. In its ruling, the SJC said, “There is no reason to stretch the anti-SLAPP statute beyond its appropriate boundaries in order to create a level of protection for reporters beyond that to which they are currently entitled under the existing defamation law.”
After the SJC ruling, the case was set to go to trial in Superior Court until the dismissal agreement.