Argued: April 5, 2016
S. Campbell, Esq. (orally), Campbell & Associates, P.A.,
Portland, for appellant Dana Desjardins
J. Murphy, Esq. (orally), Bernstein Shur, Portland, for
appellee Michael Reynolds Cumberland County Superior Court
docket number CV-2013-369 For Clerk Reference Only
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Majority: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, HJELM,
and HUMPHREY, JJ. Dissent: JABAR, J.
Dana Desjardins appeals from a judgment of the Superior Court
(Cumberland County, Warren, /.) dismissing his
complaint against Michael Reynolds for defamation and false
light invasion of privacy. Desjardins contends that the court
erred by concluding that his complaint was barred by
application of Maine's anti-SLAPP ("Strategic
Lawsuit Against Public Participation") statute, 14
M.R.S. § 556 (2016). We affirm the judgment.
In August of 2013, Desjardins, a town official for the Town
of Raymond, instituted a lawsuit in the Superior Court
against Michael Reynolds,  a Town selectman, alleging that
Reynolds had made various false statements to the Cumberland
County Sheriff's Office about Desjardins's alcohol
use for the purpose of humiliating and harassing Desjardins.
Desjardins also alleged that as a result of those reports,
Desjardins was stopped on his way to a Town meeting on
January 8, 2013, by a sheriff's deputy who was
investigating him for possibly operating under the influence.
See 29-A M.R.S. §2411 (2016). Desjardins
asserted causes of action for defamation, negligent
infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, and false light invasion of privacy, and
sought damages for his "humiliation, "
"emotional distress, " and "loss of
reputation, " as well as punitive damages and injunctive
relief. Desjardins also asserted two claims based on federal
statutes-for Reynolds's violation of 42 U.S.C.S. §
1983 (LEXIS through Pub. L. No. 115-30), and seeking attorney
fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C.S. § 1988 (LEXIS through Pub.
L. No. 115-30).
Reynolds removed the matter to the United States District
Court for the District of Maine. See 28 U.S.C.S.
§ 1441 (LEXIS through Pub. L. No. 115-30). The District
Court [Torresen, /.) dismissed the federal claims,
and Desjardins agreed to the dismissal of his claims for
negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Desjardins v. Willard, No. 2:13-cv-00338-NT, 2014
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84782, at *2-3, 61-62 (D. Me. June 20,
2014). The court also granted Reynolds's special motion
to dismiss the State claims pursuant to section 556.
Id. at*52-57, 62.
On Desjardins's appeal, the United States Court of
Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of
Desjardins's federal claims, but vacated the dismissal of
his state law claims on section 556 grounds, concluding that
those "issues are better resolved by the state courts,
where this case began." Desjardins v. Willard,
111 F.3d 43, 46 (1st Cir. 2015). Thus, when the matter
was returned to the Superior Court's jurisdiction in
February of 2015, only Desjardins's claims for defamation
and false light invasion of privacy remained.
Before the Superior Court, Reynolds reasserted his special
motion to dismiss on anti-SLAPP grounds, with accompanying
affidavits and various exhibits. Desjardins opposed the
motion, submitting affidavits and exhibits of his own. By
judgment dated June 29, 2015, the Superior Court (Warren,
J.) granted Reynolds's special motion to dismiss
both remaining causes of action on anti-SLAPP grounds.
In this matter, we are called upon to consider the reaches of
Maine's anti-SLAPP statute, 14 M.R.S. § 556, which
provides as follows:
§ 556. Special motion to dismiss
When a moving party asserts that the civil claims,
counterclaims or cross claims against the moving party are
based on the moving party's exercise of the moving
party's right of petition under the Constitution of the
United States or the Constitution of Maine, the moving party
may bring a special motion to dismiss. The special motion may
be advanced on the docket and receive priority over other
cases when the court determines that the interests of justice
so require. The court shall grant the special motion, unless
the party against whom the special motion is made shows that
the moving party's exercise of its right of petition was
devoid of any reasonable factual support or any arguable
basis in law and that the moving party's acts caused
actual injury to the responding party. In making its
determination, the court shall consider the pleading and
supporting and opposing affidavits stating the facts upon
which the liability or defense is based.
The Attorney General on the Attorney General's 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 the special
All discovery proceedings are stayed upon the filing of the
special motion under this section, except 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 remains in effect until notice of entry of the
order ruling on the special motion.
The special motion to dismiss may be filed within 60 days of
the service of the complaint or, in the court's
discretion, at any later time upon terms the court determines
If the court grants a special motion to dismiss, the court
may award the moving party costs and reasonable
attorney's fees, including those incurred for the special
motion and any related discovery matters. This section does
not affect or preclude the right ...