ESPN Writer Discusses SLAPPs and What an NFL Player Can Learn From the Snyder Case

Sep 27, 11

ESPN writer Lester Munson wrote an interesting article this week warning Braylon Edwards, a San Francisco 49ers player, about the potential consequences of bringing a SLAPP against a restaurant in Detroit.  Munson uses the SLAPP filed by Dan Snyder to demonstrate the potential consequences of bringing a meritless SLAPP.

However, what Munson does not discuss is that Michigan, unlike DC, does not have an anti-SLAPP law.  Therefore, the restaurant will not be able to file an anti-SLAPP motion and have the case dismissed early on (if it is a SLAPP).  If federal anti-SLAPP legislation were enacted, the restaurant could remove the case to federal court and file an anti-SLAPP motion there.  Their inability to do so in Michigan state court shows the imminent need for federal anti-SLAPP legislation.

Here is an excerpt from the article where Munson talks about what Edwards can learn from the Snyder SLAPP:

“Snyder reacted in rage and indignation over a lengthy Washington City Paper article headlined “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder from A to Z.” The comprehensive and hilarious look at Snyder’s tenure as Redskins owner listed his problems alphabetically, including “S” for Snyder’s “Sports Jerk of the Year Award” in the comic strip “Tank McNamara” and “V” for the vanilla ice cream that Snyder twice left to melt in former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s office to advise the coach that Snyder thought his defensive schemes were simplistic.

In a letter to the hedge fund that owns the City Paper, Snyder threatened its existence, suggesting that defending itself against Snyder “would not be a rational strategy for an investment fund such as yours,” and explaining that “the cost of litigation would presumably quickly outstrip the asset value” of the paper.

He then filed the lawsuit, first in New York, where it floundered, then again in Washington. He has now withdrawn his case (are you listening, Braylon?) without collecting a dime in damages.

Snyder’s decision to withdraw his lawsuit came after attorneys for City Paper demanded that the court dismiss the case under what is known as an “anti-SLAPP” law. The acronym stands for strategic lawsuit(s) against public participation, and the law punishes those who file lawsuits as a weapon against public critics, “not to win the lawsuit but to punish the opponent and (to) intimidate them into silence.”

If Snyder had persisted with his claim against the City Paper and lost, he would have faced the prospect of paying the attorneys’ fees for the paper, as well as his own.

After knee surgery this week, Edwards has some time on his hands. He might want to question his lawyers about what happened to Clemens and Snyder and what might happen to him in his case against the restaurant.”

Read the rest of the article here:

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