By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Peter Mayhew, owner of the Mayhew Funeral Home Inc. in Meredith, has asked the Belknap County Superior Court to silence his next-door neighbor, Douglas Frederick, owner of the American Police Motorcycle Museum, who has repeatedly told public officials and news outlets that emissions from the crematory at the funeral home carry human ashes on to his property.
On Wednesday, attorney Marc van Zanten, representing Mayhew, filed an ex parte motion, that is without Frederick's knowledge or presence, in Belknap County Superior Court seeking a temporary restraining order against Frederick and his wife, Leslyee. Justice David Ruoff denied the motion, but summoned both parties to a hearing on Mayhew's request for a preliminary and permanent injunction on Friday, May 27, in Belknap County Superior Court.
Mayhew contends that there is no evidence for Frederick's claims that "human ash" is falling from the crematory chimney and and fouling his property, yet he and his wife "loudly and publicly continue their groundless complaints."
The suit asks the court to forbid the Fredericks from making any statements that are published in a public medium that bear on either character, credibility and reputation of Mayhew, his wife or his funeral home or on the reflect directly or indirectly on the operation of the crematory at the funeral home.
Moreover, the suit claims that the Fredericks "maliciously published false and misleading statements, which falsely accuse the Plaintiffs of business conduct that is abhorrent to a civilized society, with ill will, evil motive, intent to injure and wanton disregard for Plaintiffs' rights and the consequences that were likely to follow," and seeks appropriate damages.
The brief in support of Mayhew's motion claims that Frederick began voicing public complaints about the crematory in 2013 and refers to public statements he and his wife made this month and last before the Meredith Board of Selectmen, in the pages of the The Citizen and The Laconia Daily Sun and on New England Cable News TV. Likewise, the brief alleges Frederick lodged similar complaints with the Office of the Governor, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, New Hampshire Attorney General and Board of of Registration of Funeral Directors and Embalmers as well as with the Meredith police and fire departments.
In addition, the brief claims that in an undated letter Frederick complained to his neighbors about the "material fallout from the incinerator" and said he had "maintained samples of the fallout." It alleges that in the same letter Frederick charged that Mayhew displayed a "callous disregard to the danger he places to those who live and work around his property."
Mayhew's brief notes that twice, first in April and again in May, Frederick told the Meredith selectmen that he intended to appear and speak at at every meeting until steps were taken to quell the fallout of ash on his property.
Calling Frederick's claims "groundless," the brief states that the "crematory has been operating strictly according to state law for over five years" and adds that while Frederick claims to have collected material from his property, he admits it has not been tested and consequently has no knowledge of its composition.
The brief notes that after an on-site observation earlier this month Thomas Guertin, senior compliance assessment specialist with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services reported "he did not see smoke (much less the soot of human remains) coming from the chimney during the cremation." Nevertheless, the brief continues, The Citizen quoted Frederick as saying the cremation was "set up so there would be no way it would fail."
The Sun was unable to reach either party for comment by deadline.
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