News of SLAPP suits (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation)
This page is dedicated to reporting SLAPP suits in the news. A SLAPP suit is a cowardly legal attack meant to silence and intimidate their victims. Typically they are made with spurious claims of slander or libel, but virtually any law can be bent to fit the means of legal bullies. Designed to financially destroy their targets, they are the legal tool of choice of corporate bullies that wish to quash critics, opposition, competition and unfavorable opinions. Although illegal in 28 states, SLAPP suits continue to thrive in our litigious nation. The suits are hollow and the plaintiff rarely intends to win — just to silence free speech. Both common and constitutional law have evolved to set a very high burden to claims that restrict free speech, particularly that which involves the public realm. But that doesn’t stop the legal bullying. (Been SLAPPED? Click here for a guide on what to do.)
February 18, 2013
The latest on how the Canadian government is facilitating SLAPP suits against United States Activists HERE.
February 9, 2013
This one would be comical if it wasn’t so pathetic….A Minnesota City Councilman was SLAPPed by a local developer in retaliation for a criminal suit against him.
The developer had been caught stealing the councilman’s campaign yard signs by chance — as reported by a witness who saw the signs dangerously flapping on top of a vehicle and called the police with the license plate number out of concern for public safety. The sign-thief was subsequently charged with disorderly conduct, threatening a witness, theft, and trespass. He plead guilty to disorderly conduct and the other charges were dropped. End of story? No.
A week later the thieving lout SLAPP-sued the councilman and witness for malicious prosecution, civil conspiracy, fraud, among other things. (Attorneys who represent these obvious SLAPP suits should be reprimanded by their state bar associations.)
Minnesota has one of the strongest and least ambiguous anti-SLAPP laws in the nation, but the court did not invoke the law and is allowing the frivolous case to move forward. The councilman’s attorney had this to say about the atrocity:
“The anti-SLAPP statute is a way to hold people accountable…You can’t have probable cause to bring frivolous claims when you know a guy has done nothing more than exercise his constitutional rights and in the process, perform his civic duty to report public safety hazards to the police. Do you think [Councilman] Steve Bohnenwill ever report a crime again?”
Not so funny anymore….
February 2, 2013
Momentum is growing for federal anti-SLAPP legislation in the face of the court victory of a women who was slapped after a she had posted a negative review on Angie’s List. Emboldened by the lack of anti-SLAPP laws in Virginia, the plaintiff sued — never expecting to have to face an appeals court and possibly a jury. As reported in Politico.com the plaintiff filed for an injunction which was overturned on appeal when Public Citizen got involved…
[They]..argued that in the absence of due process proving libel, the injunction amounted to censorship of free speech. What this case shows “is that if you want to stand for defamation, you should expect to prove your case to a jury and not go for an injunction,” said Paul Alan Levy, an attorney with Public Citizen. “It’s supposed to be difficult to get remedies against free speech.” (source: Politico.com)
Yelp, along with other online groups, are pushing hard for a federal anti-SLAPP law. The bright side is, there is a growing body of legal assistance for Internet users who face these cowardly attacks — and they are ready to go to court.
News on SLAPP suits:
Missouri Attorney General reprimanded the Lousiana City Council, and specifically their attorney, for threatening to file SLAPP suits against members of the public that registered complaints about their handling of the impeachment of a council member.
January 31, 2013
In just the last week of January 2013 many occurred and some were reported in the media, one was filed against a woman in Atlantic City, another against a group in Washington state, a SanClemente developer SLAPPed a local political action committee. The family of Ray Charles fought back against a SLAPP filed to prevent them from exercising their right to regain copyright to their father’s music.
TransCanada, the multinational corporation building a tar sands pipeline in Texas SLAPPed activists who protested the project. The corporation demanded $5 million in damages. Although the activists were well represented by the Civil Liberties Defense Center, the defendants opted to reach a settlement in which they agreed to cease their protest just to put an end to the legal nightmare. Tamie Carson, A Texas grandmother said “I had no choice but to settle or lose my home and everything I’ve worked for my entire life.”