Oklahoma SLAPP Stories

An attempt to squash frivolous lawsuits brings on a frivolous lawsuit.

  • On February 15th, 1995, two trial lawyers filed a lawsuit against five individuals, an organization and two newspapers demanding damages in excess of $20,000.  This was stemming a group called, Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) who was trying to end frivolous litigation in an attempt to clear the courts and free up tax dollars to be used for more resourceful means.
  • CALA posted articles in the newspapers and attempted to get new legislation to stop such frivolous lawsuits (SLAPPS).  No one individual was pointed out in any article, however, they did say, “The Trial Lawyers Association has typically prevented tort reform bills from even being heard in committee”.
  • Ironically, the two trial lawyers, Jessie Huff Durham and Beau Williams decided that the best way to prevent CALA from making a stand was to sue John A. Brock, George Kaiser and David Rainbolt, the founders of CALA, Christine F. Fletcher and Bob Howell “co-conspirators”, CALA itself, World Publishing Company and Gaylord Entertainment Company the two companies who own the newspapers in which articles had been published.
  • The most intriguing and contradicting line of the complaint reads, “The defendants’ publications were designed and intended to denigrate the attorneys in this state particularly those who have dedicated themselves to protecting the constitutional right of every citizen”.  The lawyers were blocking these citizens from enacting any sort of tort reform, just as CALA had claimed and by doing so, were infringing on their constitutional rights they the lawyers were claiming to protect.
  • This lawsuit dragged on for nearly 4 years.  It is inconceivable how much money was spent on attorneys, the time missed wasted in a court room, and the tax dollars that were spent to hear a case like this.  Cases like these are prime examples of why we need a federal anti-SLAPP bill.  Durham v Brock, Case No. CJ-95-15 (O.K. Feb. 15, 1995).