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Understanding California’s anti-SLAPP law

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2022 | Firm News

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation can cost a business not only a lot of money to fight, but it can also ruin its reputation. To counteract SLAPP, California enacted an anti-SLAPP statute that allows the defendant to strike down the suit quickly.

The anti-SLAPP law puts the burden on the plaintiff to prove his or her case.

Basics of SLAPP

According to the Marin County Bar Association, SLAPP are civil complaints and are damaging to the defendant. The lawsuits target those who speak out on public interest issues or communicate with the government. Most people who file SLAPPs are not doing it to win the case or get awarded with money. The point is to tie up time, money and resources of the defendant.

Defending a SLAPP can take thousands of dollars and even years. To prevent this, many defendants choose to retract their statement, apologize or modify the statement, which was the ultimate purpose of the one filing the lawsuit.

Information about the anti-SLAPP law

The anti-SLAPP law helps put a quick end to these frivolous lawsuits. A defendant is able to file an anti-SLAPP Motion to Strike. All the defendant has to do is show that his or her conduct falls into the area of the right to free speech or the right to petition, which are protected rights under the constitution.

If the defendant is able to meet this minimum requirement, the plaintiff must be able to present evidence to the contrary, or there is a dismissal of the lawsuit. This burden is a challenge, and most plaintiffs are unable to do so, allowing the defendant to move on.

According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, if a defendant can show that the plaintiff filed the lawsuit frivolously, the court may order the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s legal fees. The defendant may also be able to sue the plaintiff if he or she can prove the purpose of the lawsuit was to silence or harass.