A file photo of Jay Jacobs in his office in...

A file photo of Jay Jacobs in his office in Glen Cove. (Dec. 16, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Ed Betz

State Supreme Court Judge J.J. Jones Jr. has dismissed a libel lawsuit accusing two North Sea homeowners of saying a camp owner lied on a town application, to stop him from opening a camp in their neighborhood.

Jay Jacobs, the state Democratic committee chairman and owner and operator of day camps in New York, filed the $45 million libel lawsuit against the two homeowners opposed to the camp.

Jacobs alleged that John Barona and John Gorman, president and vice president of the Little Fresh Ponds Association, made false statements, saying Jacobs lied on his application to the Town of Southampton for the proposed camp in North Sea.

Many homeowners from the area of Little Fresh Ponds showed up to express opposition to the camp at several town board hearings and meetings, saying it could disrupt the fragile pond environment. Jacobs has said his plan, which town officials are still considering, includes safe sewage operation. He contended that the false statements were meant to disparage him and his company, Southampton Day Camp Realty LLC.

In a July 3 decision, the judge described the lawsuit as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation -- or SLAPP suit -- noting that the plaintiff did not offer enough evidence that the statements were said in a fraudulent manner.

"We felt from the beginning this was clearly a SLAPP suit," Jeffrey L. Shore of Phillips Nizer LLP in Manhattan, Garden City and East Hampton, who represented the defendants.

The judge also ordered Jacobs to pay for the homeowners' legal fees, which is part of the remedy of a SLAPP suit, according to Jones' decision.

Jacobs plans to appeal. "Our lawsuit was never intended to block free speech," his attorneys, of Harris Beach LLC of Pittsford, N.Y., said in a statement. "We believe the defendants engaged in deceptive and libelous behavior with the sole purpose of defaming Mr. Jacobs."

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