State Supreme Court Allows Suit Against Troubled Rochester Firm
ROCHESTER, MA — A lawsuit claiming that a local asphalt company abused the court system to prevent competition from another firm that wanted to set up shop nearby has been allowed to proceed by the state's highest court.
Rochester Bituminous Products — located on King's Highway in Rochester on the West Wareham border — and its officers are being sued by Bristol Asphalt Co. and a developer relating to a legal struggle that has lasted over a decade.
On Friday, a majority of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the decision from a lower court allowing the lawsuit to go ahead.
According to the SJC decision, both asphalt companies have been embroiled in a court battle since 2010, when Rochester Bituminous fought the other asphalt company's plans to build a bituminous concrete plant next to theirs in Rochester's industrial zone.
The lawsuit at issue was filed by Bristol Asphalt in 2020 and claims that Rochester Bituminous abused the court process in "an improper attempt to prevent business competition," the justices noted.
Rochester Bituminous has found itself in hot water numerous times in the past few years.
In January 2022, the company was cited for violating labor laws after allegedly underpaying 22 workers on public projects by around $30 per hour.
The firm's former accountant had previously been charged for allegedly falsifying company tax records in November 2021.
Most recently, last May, the state Attorney General's office charged the company and its officers with tax evasion.
Rochester Bituminous motioned to dismiss the current lawsuit brought by Bristol Asphalt, arguing that it's "an improper attempt to chill their rights to engage in legitimate petitioning activity," as the justices wrote.
But the state's highest court ultimately found in favor of Bristol Asphalt — despite a partly dissenting opinion from Justice John Englander.