In “Law Talk – No. 2″, Kurt Schmalz discusses what is a “SLAPP”?

March 31, 2015
Kurt L. Schmalz

In California civil litigation, “SLAPP” is an acronym for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.”  SLAPP litigation refers to lawsuits which are brought against a person primarily to discourage that person from exercising his or her constitutional rights of free speech and to petition for the redress of grievances.  See Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16(a).  In 1992, the Legislature enacted the anti-SLAPP Law which gives persons who are sued for exercising their constitutional rights of free speech and to petition for redress of grievances powerful tools to have those lawsuits dismissed at the start of the litigation and to recover attorney’s fees from the parties who filed the SLAPP case.  Lawsuits subject to the anti-SLAPP Law include libel and slander cases and malicious prosecution actions, as well as many zoning and land use cases, election law and ballot disputes and even some corporate shareholder disputes.  The courts have interpreted the anti-SLAPP Law broadly to include a wide variety of lawsuits in which the defendant is being sued for speech, advocacy or complaints with regard to a matter of general public concern.

The anti-SLAPP Law is complicated and, over the past 22 years, has been the subject of many published appellate decisions.  A person sued in California for arguably asserting constitutional rights should promptly consult a civil litigation attorney with experience in the anti-SLAPP Law because a defendant’s ability to use the powerful defenses in this law can be lost if an anti-SLAPP special motion to strike is not filed within 60 days of service of the lawsuit, pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16(f).  

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