Nevada Tightens Anti-SLAPP

by R. Christopher Reade on Mar. 30, 2020

Accident & Injury Defamation & Slander Accident & Injury 

Summary: The Nevada Supreme Court has recently tightened its Anti-SLAPP standards and broadened the protections for speech regarding litigation.

The Nevada Supreme Court has recently clarified what speech is subject to Anti-SLAPP protections against allegations that a publication is defamatory (libel or slander). Nevada's anti-SLAPP statute protects the right to free speech regarding a matter of public concern, NRS 41.600(3)(a). A good-faith communication in furtherance of the right to free speech regarding a matter of public concern includes any communication that is (1) "made in direct connection with an issue of public interest," (2) "in a place open to the public or in a public forum," and (3) "which is truthful or is made without knowledge of its falsehood." NRS 41.637(4).

An issue is of public interest is something of concern to a substantial number of people; a matter of concern to a speaker and a relatively small specific audience is not a matter of public interest. The focus of the speaker's conduct should be the public interest rather than a mere effort to gather ammunition for another round of private controversy. A person cannot turn otherwise private information into a matter of public interest simply by communicating it to a large number of people.

To enjoy the protection of Nevada's anti-SLAPP statutes, statements must be communicated "in a place open to the public or in a public forum." NRS 41.637(4). An email listserv may constitute a public forum for purposes of the anti-SLAPP statutes. However a private telephone conversation does not constitute a public forum.

To be protected under the anti-SLAPP statutes, statements must be "good-faith" communications"—that is, that the statements were either "truthful or made without knowledge of [their] falsehood." NRS 41.637. Because "there is no such thing as a false idea," statements of opinion are statements made without knowledge of their falsehood under Nevada's anti-SLAPP statutes. "[I]n determining whether the communications were made in good faith, the court must consider the 'gist or sting' of the communications as a whole, rather than parsing individual words in the communications. . . " and not on the literal truth of each word or detail used in a statement."

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