NH Supreme Court Rules Company’s Ad Campaign Was Protected Political Speech
Posted Nov 11, 2010 9:51 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has overturned a $6.7 million verdict against a wireless provider accused of violating state consumer protection laws for false statements in an ad campaign against a competitor.
The court found (PDF) that the campaign by Fifth Estate Tower was political speech that was protected by the First Amendment, according to the Concord Monitor and the Associated Press. Fifth Estate Tower had urged residents of Wolfeboro to reject a proposal to lease land to a competitor that wanted to build a radio communications tower.
Fifth Estate Tower had claimed the competitor’s tower could cause cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. A lower court judge had had instructed jurors that the claims were not protected by the First Amendment because they were commercial in nature.