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Court slapps down landlord who sued tenant in condemned building

The Massachusetts Appeals Court today dismissed a suit by a Dorchester landlord against a tenant who testified about the conditions inside his apartment during a city hearing on whether to condemn his building as unfit for human habitation.

James Dickey had sued James Warren under the state's Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) law, which is normally used by civic organizations to fight potentially expensive lawsuits by large corporations. He alleged that Warren lied about problems with a furnace in Dickey's building at 97 Mt. Ida Rd. and therefore caused him serious harm.

The court allowed as how Warren may have gotten a fact about the furnace and his reason for moving wrong, but ruled Dickey still had no business filing the suit, because there were so many things wrong with the building that the city Inspectional Services Department would have condemned the building anyway. Thus, Dickey was not harmed by anything Warren said.

Complete ruling.