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People

Elizabeth A. Ritvo

Elizabeth A.  Ritvo

Elizabeth A. Ritvo

Of Counsel

Litigation & Arbitration

Elizabeth A. Ritvo

Of Counsel

Litigation & Arbitration

Elizabeth Ritvo has more than 30 years of broad experience in complex commercial litigation and has also counseled and represented newspapers, television stations, publishers and other media in libel, invasion of privacy, access, prior restraint, First Amendment and copyright matters before state and federal trial and appellate courts. Liz has also served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association for business and construction disputes.

Liz has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the area of First Amendment Law, was recognized as its 2017 “Lawyer of the Year” First Amendment Law in Boston and was named one of 2013's Top Women of Law by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS

  • Billingslea v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts (SUCV 2010-10103).  Represented newspaper in gaining access to exhibits in sexually dangerous person civil commitment proceedings where the Superior Court found these were judicial records available for public inspection.
  • LaChance v. Boston Herald, et al., 78 Mass. App. Ct. 910 (2011). Defended newspaper in defamation case where Appeals Court made expansive application of limited purpose public figure status to plaintiff inmate. Grant of summary judgment affirmed.
  • Monahan v. The Boston Herald, Howard L. Carr and O'Ryan Johnson, (Mass. Superior Court, MICV 2006-03222). Defended newspaper, its columnist and its reporter in defamation case brought by former city selectman and chairman of state Civil Service Commission. Summary judgment granted on grounds that publications were either protected opinion, substantially true or published without actual malice.
  • Safe Haven, et al. v. Charles "Chuck" Turner, Diane Wilkerson, Boston Herald, Inc., Robert Brown and City of Boston Inspectional Services Department, (Mass. Superior Court, SUCV 2007-02247). Defended newspaper in defamation case brought by operators of sober housing against the newspaper, a city councilor and a state senator, among others. The court noted that defense of defamation claims comes at significant cost to the institution of the press and thus that courts take a more liberal position with respect to motions to dismiss in this context. Motion to dismiss allowed.
  • Commonwealth v. Entwistle, (Mass. Superior Court, Framingham Division, No. 0649-CR-0512). Represented newspaper in unsealing search warrant papers in connection with defendant Neil Entwistle and the murder of his wife and child.
  • Islamic Society of Boston, et al. v. Boston Herald, Inc. et al., (Mass Superior Court, SUCV-05-4637). Defended newspaper against defamation claim brought by Islamic Society of Boston against client newspaper and others. All claims dropped and case dismissed with prejudice.
  • Meuse v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., et al., 2008 WL 2228865 (Mass. Super.). Defended television station in defamation case brought by father who was focus of nationwide manhunt, after he disappeared with his daughter in custody dispute and was subject of television broadcast. Summary judgment granted on all counts.
  • Yohe v. Nugent, et al., 321 F. 3d 35 (1st Circuit, 2003). Defended newspaper in defamation case in which First Circuit adopted a favorable, in-depth analysis of the Massachusetts privilege for fair reports of governmental activity. Grant of summary judgment affirmed.
  • Unsealed pleadings in church sexual abuse cases in Massachusetts state courts.
  • The Boston Herald v. Sharpe, 432 Mass. 593 (2000). Represented newspaper in unsealing judicial records in a case in which Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recognized that public right of access to judicial records in civil cases is substantially the same as the broad right of access to judicial records in criminal cases.
  • Peckham v. Boston Herald, Inc., 48 Mass. App. 282 (1999). Defended newspaper in invasion of privacy case in which Massachusetts Appeals Court recognized that the media are privileged against claims for invasion of privacy when a publication falls within a broad category of matters of "legitimate public concern.” Grant of summary judgment affirmed.
  • Sprint Spectrum L.P. v. Town of Easton, 982 F. Supp. 47 (D. Mass. 1997). Represented major telecommunications carrier where court found that town violated Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1983 by denying carrier its rights under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Summary judgment granted and injunction entered directing town to issue special permit for construction of telecommunications tower.
  • Rielly v. News Group Boston, Inc. et al., 38 Mass. App. Ct. 909 (1995). Represented newspaper in defamation case brought by daughter of president of union where Appeals Court found phrase "on the pad" had to be considered in context of entire article and, in context, was not capable of defamatory meaning. Grant of summary judgment affirmed.
  • Boston Herald, Inc., et al. v. Superior Court Department of the Trial Court, 421 Mass. 502 (1995). Represented newspaper in matter involving access to hospital arraignment in which Supreme Judicial Court recognized that the public right of access to judicial proceedings was the same, whether proceedings were held in traditional courtroom or in non-traditional settings.
  • Milgroom v. News Group Boston, Inc., 412 Mass. 9 (1992). Defended newspaper in defamation case brought by state judge where plaintiff failed to establish actual malice. Grant of summary judgment affirmed by Supreme Judicial Court.

PUBLICATIONS

  • Author, "Definition of a 'Journalist,' 'Media' or 'News' Under Right of Publicity and Misappropriation Torts," Media Law Resource Center, Model Shield Law Committee, Resource Materials on the Definition of "Journalist" and "Media" in Litigation and Legislation, 2014 Update
  • Co-author, Survey of First Circuit Privacy and Related Claims Against the Media, Media Law Resource Center 50-state Survey, Media Privacy and Related Law (2004-2016)
  • Co-author, “Survey of Massachusetts Employment Privacy,” Media Law Resource Center 50-state survey, Employment Privacy and Libel Law (2003-2012)
  • Co-author, "Grantmaking in a Down Economy: Thoughts from the Boston Bar Foundation," Boston Bar Journal, Winter 2012
  • Co-author, Massachusetts Broadcasters Association Legal Guide, June 2009
  • Co-author, "Online Syndication of User-Generated Content Under the Communications Decency Act," Media Law Resource Center Bulletin, May 2008
  • Co-author, "Online Forums and Chat Rooms in Defamation Actions," Communications Lawyer (ABA Forum on Communications Law), Summer 2006
  • Co-author, "Fair Report Privilege: First Circuit Extends Privilege to Police Chief Interview," Boston Bar Journal, September/October 2003
  • Co-author, “Recognition of Foreign Judgments in the United States,” Media Law Quarterly, Fall 2003
  • Co-author, Massachusetts section published in The Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press,“Reporter’s Privilege Compendium”, Summer 2002
  • Co-author, Massachusetts Chapter, International Execution Against Judgment Debtors (Oceana Publications)
  • Author of various articles concerning current media law matters

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

Liz regularly speaks on media law and First Amendment matters.

  • Panelist, "Libel," New England Newspaper and Press Association Conference, February 2015
  • Panelist, "Freedom of Information Act," New England First Amendment Institute, November 2014, September 2013, November 2012, November 2011
  • Panelist, "Right of Publicity," 16th and 18th Annual New England Intellectual Property Law Conference, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, June 2013 and June 2016
  • Panelist, “Fighting for Public Access,” Investigative Reporters and Editors, June 2012
  • Moderator, “Advertising Law: Trends and New Developments,” Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, June 2011
  • Panelist, "Developing Effective Corporate Social Media Policies" panel, Social Media Law Seminar, Law Seminars International, March 2011
  • Panelist, "Developments Relating to Online Publicity and Defamation Concerns" panel, Copyright, Privacy and Defamation in Cyberspace Seminar, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, February 2011
  • Panelist, “Content Liability,” Boston Bar Association Continuing Legal Education, June 2010
  • Panelist, “What In-House Counsel Need to Know in Troubled Times,” Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, June 2009
  • Facilitator, “Content Gathering,” Media Law Conference, Media Law Resource Center, September 2008
  • Speaker, “Advertising and Promotions: Rules and Regulations Every Massachusetts Broadcaster Needs to Know,” Massachusetts Broadcasters Association Conference, June 2008
  • Faculty, Media Advocacy Workshop, American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law, February 2007
  • Facilitator, “Newsgathering: Access, Subpoenas and Related Matters,” Media Law Conference, Media Law Resource Center, September 2004
  • Speaker, New England Press Association Annual Conference: “HIPAA” (2004); “Is Your Newsroom Secure?” (2003); “Libel and Invasion of Privacy” (2002); “Internet Law and the Media” (2001); “Covering the Courts” (2000); “Invasion of Privacy” (1996); “Legal Issues in Advertising” (1992)
  • Speaker, “Pro Se: Managing Cases with Self-Represented Parties,” American Arbitration Association Neutrals Training Conference, January 2003 and August 2003
  • Panelist, “Privacy Security and Liability on the Internet,” Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, 1996

AWARDS & HONORS

  • Selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the fields of First Amendment Law and First Amendment Litigation (2009-2017)
  • 2013 Top Women of Law, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
  • Received highest peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell (AV)

PROFESSIONAL & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Media Law Resource Center: Board of Directors (2012); Executive Committee, Defense Counsel Section (2008 – 2013), President (2012); New Developments Committee, Co-chair (2005 – 2007)
  • American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law: Co-chair, Women in Communications Law (2004 – 2006); Member (1998 – present); Diversity Moot Court Competition Committee Member (2009 – 2015)
  • New England First Amendment Coalition: Board Member (2011 – present)
  • New England Center for Investigative Reporting, Advisory Board Member (2012 – present)
  • Boston Bar Association Council, Member (2014 – present)
  • Boston Bar Association, Amicus Committee, Co-chair (2016 – present)
  • Boston Bar Foundation Grants Committee: Co-chair (2011 – 2014); Member, (1999 – present)
  • Boston Bar Association, Online Access to Count Records Working Group (2016)
  • Boston Bar Association Task Force on Confidential Settlement Agreements: Member (2002 – 2004)
  • Access to Justice Fellow (2016 – 2017), a program of the Access to Justice Commission and the Lawyers Clearinghouse
  • Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation: Trustee (2002 – 2008)
  • Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts: President (1997); Trustee (1994 – 2000)

BAR ADMISSIONS

  • Massachusetts
  • District of Columbia (Inactive)
  • Virginia (Inactive)
  • US District Courts for District of Massachusetts and District of Columbia 
  • US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • US District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
  • US Supreme Court
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