A Superior Court judge has ruled that a libel suit involving the Absecon Gardens development can go forward.
Judge James Isman ruled Thursday that developer Anthony Cappuccio’s suit against local activist Barbara Brown can proceed, with a discovery period to last until November.
Brown’s attorney, Seth Grossman, had requested a summary judgment for the case to be dismissed without trial.
Brown is a member of the Save Absecon Committee, which opposes the Absecon Planning Board's 2011 decision to remove the senior housing designation for the 76-unit complex on New Jersey Avenue.
Cappuccio’s lawsuit states the defendant “issued defamatory statements and information constituting libel and slander, thereby irrevocably damaging the reputation of (Cappuccio’s) character.”
Because there are no quotes listed in the libel suit, Save Absecon has stated their opinion that it is a Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, or SLAPP suit, a legal strategy designed to silence public opposition. A party that is facing a SLAPP suit can countersue.
Cappuccio and his attorney deny that it is a SLAPP suit.
“The judge had said there was some substance to our suit,” Cappuccio said.
For his part, Grossman expressed disappointment. “We thought we presented a good case for bringing the case to an end now, but that was the court’s ruling,” he said.
A seperate lawsuit was filed by Save Absecon opposing the Planning Board’s decision and will be heard by an appellate court Feb. 12.
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