Mattapoisett-based landscaping company Yard Boss has settled a Superior Court defamation lawsuit against two Mattapoisett town officials, Conservation Commission Chairman Bob Rogers and Conservation Agent Elizabeth Leidhold, according to a statement released by Yard Boss’ attorney Michael Franco of Beauregard, Burke, & Franco on February 14.
The lawsuit stems from accusations made by Rogers and Leidhold that Yard Boss had been illegally and/or unethically withdrawing water from the Mattapoisett River at the town landing for business use.
During 2015, Rogers and Leidhold made a number of comments in public about Yard Boss, especially owner Todd Rodrigues, accusing him of wrongdoing. The town later learned that there were no existing bylaws that would restrict Yard Boss from withdrawing water from the river, until Town Meeting in 2016 adopted such a bylaw.
According to the released statement, the Town of Mattapoisett agreed to a statement in connection with the settlement, which was signed by Town Administrator Michael Gagne on January 10 and approved and authorized by the Board of Selectmen. The statement reads:
“The Superior Court lawsuit brought by Yard Boss Landscape Design, LLC against Robert Rogers and Elizabeth Leidhold has been resolved in a negotiated settlement with no admission of liability or wrongdoing by any party. The Town of Mattapoisett acknowledges that Yard Boss did not engage in any illegality or wrongdoing in connection with its past withdrawal of water from Mattapoisett riverways for purposes of its hydro-seeding activities. The Town of Mattapoisett regrets the difficulties that this situation may have created for Yard Boss.”
The Town will have to pay $9,800 for attorneys fees and fees incurred in connection with the lawsuit.
In a statement, Mr. Rodrigues said, “I enjoy being in Mattapoisett. It’s a great Town. I have no desire to hurt the Town financially, so I am pleased that we have worked out a settlement that clears the reputation of Yard Boss and hopefully sends a loud message to the Conservation Commission officials involved.”
Attorney Franco stated in an email that Rodrigues would have no further comment on the lawsuit.
The Wanderer was unable to reach Gagne for a statement Tuesday evening before deadline.
By Jean Perry