Selectman wants defamation lawsuit tossed

NASHUA – Hudson Selectman Marilyn McGrath wants the defamation lawsuit filed against her by real estate developer Steve Trefethen tossed out, arguing that she did not defame him during a public meeting.

“I just don’t think the statements Ms. McGrath made are defamatory,” attorney Brian Cullen, representing McGrath, said.

Cullen argued before Hillsborough Superior Court Judge Charles Temple that McGrath’s statements made during an April 2017 Board of Selectmen’s meeting do not meet the legal definition of defamation.

Trefethen’s attorney, Dana Smith, did not comment on the case when reached Friday. According to court records, Trefethen’s real estate business suffered after the accusations. The alleged defamation occurred during a meeting in which Trefethen was seeking a zoning variance on a property he was developing. McGrath began questioning Trefethen about a 2014 zoning board meeting at which she remembered seeing him.

The meeting containing the exchange involving McGrath and Trefethen was broadcast on Hudson’s local government cable station more than 20 times, according to Trefethen’s lawsuit. The comments caused business associates and clients to have negative thoughts about Trefethen, he claims in the lawsuit.

Trefethen bought an ethics complaint against McGrath regarding the comments last year, but Hudson’s Code of Ethics Committee dismissed his complaint.

Temple has yet to rule on McGrath’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the case. A trial in the matter is scheduled for October.

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or dfisher@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DF.