In California, the Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law is an important legal tool that protects individuals and groups from being prevented from free speech or petition regarding issues important to them. It is used in response to a SLAPP filed against a person or organization. The following points cover the basics of the Anti-SLAPP law.
The California Anti-SLAPP law defined
The purpose of the Anti-SLAPP law is to prevent abusive lawsuits filed against people to target free speech, petition and other rights. SLAPP lawsuits attempt to intimidate, punish, or silence people engaging in these activities. For example, a company or wealthy person may “SLAPP” another individual or organization with a lawsuit for speaking out against them or their brand.
Since lawsuits are typically expensive, the person who received the SLAPP often gives up and is silenced because they cannot fund the court battle.
The California Anti-SLAPP law covers activities including protests, public statements, online posts, and additional activities that fall under the First Amendment. Anti-SLAPP cases follow a two-step process, which includes a burden of proof shift. The defendant must demonstrate that the plaintiff filed the SLAPP lawsuit as an attempt to stop protected speech or petition activities. If they succeed, the case shifts to the plaintiff, who must prove they have a high probability of winning the case because the defendant’s actions had no factual basis.
Provisions and benefits
The Anti-SLAPP law is not limited strictly to individuals but applies to public interest litigation. It extends the benefit of the law’s protection to advocacy groups and organizations. Successful defendants can recover legal fees and other costs related to the lawsuit, which can deter frivolous SLAPP lawsuits.
The defendant in a SLAPP complaint must file an Anti-SLAPP motion to strike within a short timeframe that varies by jurisdiction. A defendant who successfully demonstrated that their opponent filed a lawsuit to silence or harass them can also file a “SLAPPback” lawsuit against the original plaintiff. They can sue to recover damages for abuse of the legal process.
California’s Anti-SLAPP law is complicated, but its purpose is crucial to protecting free speech and petition rights. If you are facing a SLAPP lawsuit, a deep understanding is essential to navigate the legal complexities effectively.