Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP)
Summary: SLAPP is an acronym for "strategic lawsuit against public participation." See, Jarrow Formulas, Inc. v. LaMarche, 31 Cal. 4th 728, 732, fn. 1 (2003). Basically, a SLAPP is a lawsuit that has the effect to chill exercise of protected free speech.
What is a SLAPP?SLAPP is an acronym for "strategic lawsuit against public participation." See, Jarrow Formulas, Inc. v. LaMarche, 31 Cal. 4th 728, 732, fn. 1 (2003). Basically, a SLAPP is a lawsuit that has the effect to chill exercise of protected free speech.
What are Anti-SLAPP Statutes?Anti-SLAPP statutes aim at protecting First Amendment free speech of private citizens, of the public and of government speakers. In 1992, the California legislature passed a law that was codified as Section 425.16 of the California Code of Civil Procedure. This Anti-SLAPP statute allows a defendant to bring a special motion to strike a complaint that prevents defendants free speech. The motion has to be filed early in the case, within 60 days after the summons and complaint are served. The types of protected fee speech in question may include a lawsuit alleging defamation, alleging nuisance, or alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress.
What is a SLAPP Back?If Anti-SLAPP statutes were enacted to protect free speech, SLAPP Back statutes were enacted to prevent abuse of Anti-SLAPP statues. After enacting Section 425.16, the California Legislature became concerned about how this statute was being used. Therefore, they passed another law codified as Section 425.17 of the California Code of Civil Procedure which provides that certain action are not subject to Anti-SLAPP. They include action that are brought solely in the public's interest or on behalf of the general public.
An ExampleHere is an over-simplified fact pattern to help illustrate these concepts. Assume person "X" publicly calls person "Y" a liar. Y sues X for defamation. X believes he was exercising his protected free speech when he called Y a liar, so X brings a special motion to strike Y's complaint under the Anti-SLAPP statute. Y believes his lawsuit was brought solely in the public's interest, so Y defends based on the SLAPP Back statute.
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