Permitting, First Amendment and Jury Trial Issues All in One Case
On June 29, 2017, the First Circuit Court of Appeals decided Steinmetz v. Coyle Caron, Inc. That case, which has its roots in the mundane desire of a couple to build a new home on their land in Cohasset, gave rise to some interesting and complicated constitutional questions.
The Steinmetzes needed approval from the local Conservation Commission for their project. A group of neighbors opposing the construction hired Coyle & Caron, a Florida landscaping firm, to prepare and present renderings of the proposed home to the Conservation Commission. At least one draft rendering also was posted on Facebook. The Conservation Commission denied the Steimentzes’ application. Claiming that the renderings had a dramatic impact on the Conservation Commission and that its renderings were false, fraudulent, negligent, defamatory and an unfair or deceptive trade practice prohibited by G.L. c. 3A, § 9, the Steinmetzes filed an action against Coyle & Caron in federal court.
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