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Mette, Evans & Woodside Represents Newspaper Publisher in Freedom of Speech and First Amendment Lawsuit

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The law firm of Mette, Evans & Woodside has settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of its client, Press and Journal, Inc., publisher of the Middletown Press & Journal, against the Borough of Middletown, Pennsylvania.

 

The suit alleged that the Borough violated the newspaper’s rights of free speech and press guaranteed by the First Amendment. The suit arose in 2018 when the Borough refused to place advertisements for publication with the paper because the Borough disagreed with the paper’s reporting and editorials. The Borough stated that it might resume a commercial relationship if the newspaper’s reporting changed.

 

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner entered a consent decree on March 25, 2019 requiring the Borough to follow published neutral criteria. The Borough also agreed to pay the paper’s legal fees for the matter.

 

Mette, Evans & Woodside attorneys Aaron D. Martin, Michael D. Reed and Veronica L. Boyer represented Press & Journal in the suit.

 

As a subcontractor, what happens if I sign releases in order to get paid for my work?

Often contracts for public projects and large private projects require subcontractors to sign lien waivers and releases in order to receive periodic payments for their work. The subcontractors, in turn, are required to obtain similar waivers from sub-subcontractors and suppliers. For subcontractors, this creates a breeding ground for conflict. The subcontractor may feel it has a claim against the general contractor but needs to get paid, and so it is faced with the choice of releasing the claim or potentially not getting paid. This conflict can trickle down to sub-subs and suppliers who may have a claim against any of the other parties. Last year, in Connelly Construction Corporation v. Travelers, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania confirmed that these lien waivers and releases are enforceable. This decision reinforces the need for subcontractors to seriously consider the consequences of signing these waiver forms.  Commonly, general contractors will accept markups to the waiver form intended to preserve a subcontractor’s claim. Subcontractors (as well as sub-subs and suppliers) can benefit greatly from seeking legal advice before signing a contract that requires these forms or the forms themselves.

Settlement of First Amendment Lawsuit Against York County, Pennsylvania

Mette, Evans & Woodside announces the settlement of a client’s lawsuit against York County, Pennsylvania, alleging violations of the client’s rights under the First Amendment. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg.

The firm’s client desired to conduct a public demonstration in front of the York County Courthouse, but was threatened by York County with criminal prosecution if he would not first comply with an onerous and outdated ordinance. Among other things, the ordinance required disclosure of the client’s “affiliation with any organization or identifiable group” as a condition of applying for a permit to demonstrate on property owned by York County. The ordinance also conditioned approval of a permit upon criteria including any “reasonable expectation of provocative messages.” The firm’s client intended to protest racism.

After filing suit, the county retreated from its threats of criminal prosecution, allowed the client to protest without complying with the challenged ordinance, and ultimately paid $30,000 in settlement of the case.

Attorneys Aaron D. Martin, Veronica L. Morrison and Jacob H. Kiessling represented the firm’s client in this action. Mette, Evans & Woodside maintains an active practice protecting the constitutional rights of private citizens and entities.