Amherst Media neighbor demands damages in counterclaim

  • Amherst Town Hall

Staff Writer
Friday, March 08, 2019

AMHERST — An Amherst resident whose family sold Amherst Media two Main Street lots where its new headquarters is expected to be built is demanding that the nonprofit pay damages, costs and attorney’s fees related to an ongoing Hampshire Superior Court case.

A counterclaim recently filed by Amherst attorney Peter Vickery on behalf of Gerald G. “Jerry” Guidera contends that a lawsuit by Amherst Media, and other actions the nonprofit has taken, have violated Guidera’s civil rights through intimidation and coercion under the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, damaged Guidera through an abuse of process and malicious prosecution, and interfered in the sale of a home at 38 Gray St.

The initial lawsuit, part of a long-simmering dispute between Amherst Media and Guidera, its former neighbor, contended that its Main Street properties, purchased in 2013, were devalued by Guidera not providing all information about the lots at the time of the sale. Some of the issues that were central to the original lawsuit, including illegal encroachments from abutting properties onto the Amherst Media site that included plantings, a shed, a wall and fence, a driveway, as well as water drainage, have since been resolved.

Judge Richard Carey dismissed a portion of the lawsuit that contended Guidera had committed general fraud, but left intact a complaint against him under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law.

Guidera said he is anticipating that there will be a full trial in the next year or two for his answer to the lawsuit.

The counterclaim comes as Amherst Media, which is in the midst of a capital campaign, is expecting to go before the Local Historic District Commission March 11 for an initial review of its building plans. The commission reviews projects in the Emily Dickinson Local Historic District.

“I hope their fundraising campaign goes well so they can afford to pay my legal fees,” Guidera said.

Michael Pill, the attorney who filed the lawsuit for Amherst Media, said Guidera’s response is nothing but an attempt at retaliation and an attempt to sabotage the effort to build the new studio.

“This bullying tactic will not succeed,” Pill said.

Pill added that he will defend Amherst Media.

“I am preparing an appropriate response to the counterclaim that I hope to send out as soon as possible,” Pill said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.