SLAPP law is a major factor in California litigation, yet it’s likely that most San Diego and California residents haven’t ever heard this term. If you’re reading this, it’s likely you are involved in litigation where an anti-SLAPP motion may come into play. The information outlined below will give you a better idea of what an anti-SLAPP motion is and what it does.
SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” SLAPPs are lawsuits that have been filed with the intention of draining the defendant of their resources, time, money, and energy to effectively “silence” speech that the plaintiff doesn’t like. Alleging defamation––including slander and libel––is a classic example.
If the SLAPP lawsuit is successful, it may also silence others engaged in similar speech. For example, if the residents of an apartment complex complain about living conditions, the landlord might file a lawsuit against the most outspoken tenant. The landlord doesn’t care whether he wins the lawsuit; defending against a lawsuit is expensive, time consuming, and stressful, so the landlord gets what he wants by forcing the defendant to retract the criticism while scaring other critics into silence.
California combats this abuse of the legal process by allowing defendants to file an anti-SLAPP motion. In San Diego, defendants can file an anti-SLAPP motion to quickly dismiss the case while forcing the plaintiff to pay all the legal fees. If the defendant can show that the plaintiff filed the lawsuit to retaliate against the defendant’s rights to free speech or petition, and the plaintiff cannot show reasonable probability of winning the lawsuit, then the judge will dismiss the case and award the defendant court costs and attorney fees. The defendant may also be able to file a separate lawsuit known as a SLAPP-back against the plaintiff to recover additional damages.
Anti-SLAPP motions are complicated, so it’s important to consult with an anti-SLAPP attorney who is experienced with this complex area of law in San Diego and greater California. Contact The Law Office of Ryan T. Darby today for a consultation if you’ve been served with a lawsuit you consider to be in bad faith.