Defense seeks dismissal of lawsuit over swastika on flour bagBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent
January 10. 2018 11:42PM
NORTH HAVERHILL — A defendant is asking a judge to immediately dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by a former Littleton shop owner who claims she was vilified by a would-be customer on social media and ultimately driven out of business for displaying an antique flour sack with a swastika on it.
In the Jan. 5 motion, which was received by the Grafton County Superior Court on Jan. 8, Attorney Michael Lewis, who represents customer Katherine Ferrier, wrote that plaintiff Nicole Guida’s lawsuit has penalized his client’s “thoughtful exercise of her fundamental constitutional rights as an American citizen.”
This is the second time Ferrier has asked Grafton County Superior Court Judge Kenneth MacLeod to dismiss the suit on procedural grounds. Her latest request claims that Guida failed to follow an earlier court ruling that required she file notice with the court that she would be representing herself or that she had a new attorney.
“(The) plaintiff’s conduct...is marked by an absence of respect for this court, its order and its practices,” wrote Lewis.
In a three-part ruling on Dec. 12, MacLeod gave Guida, who could represent herself, until Jan. 2 to file an appearance as to who would represent her. In court documents dated Jan. 4, MacLeod noted that no appearance had been filed.
In his December ruling, MacLeod granted a motion of Guida’s former attorney, Kirk Simoneau, to withdraw from the case on the basis of unspecified “ethical” reasons.
The judge deferred acting on a defense motion to hold a status conference on an interlocutory appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court that would put the trial “on hold,” pending the filing of an appearance by Guida’s new lawyer.
MacLeod also said that if Guida failed to make the appearance deadline, “the court may take such action as justice may require.”
Despite the previous unsuccessful motion to have MacLeod dismiss Guida’s lawsuit, Lewis filed his most recent motion citing Guida’s “…failure to prosecute the case consistent with the court’s order of Dec. 12, 2017.”
Lewis’s recent motion said that for months Guida “has failed to engage in a defense of her efforts to intrude upon plaintiff’s constitutional rights,” adding that Guida did not file an objection to the motion for interlocutory appeal, which could have delayed the trial, and seemingly did not communicate about it and other matters with her former attorney Kirk Simoneau “which appears to have caused him to withdraw from this case.”
On Nov. 26, 2016, Guida alleged that Katherine Ferrier came to her store, Chic & Unique antiques on Main Street, and, after observing a 1912 Lucky Flour sack, confronted her and complained that the swastika was a symbol of racism and hate.
Guida replied that the swastika was a symbol of good luck used for millennia around the world and that it had no connection to either Nazi Germany or the racist groups that supported Donald Trump in his successful bid for President.
Two days after the initial confrontation, however, Guida said Ferrier posted comments about it on Facebook that, according to her lawsuit, defamed Guida, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and interfered with her business to the point that it failed.
Ferriera has consistantly said that her speech is protected by both the U.S. Constitution and New Hampshire Constitution.