Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs, are brought not to vindicate legal rights, but to harass and intimidate, and to divert attention and resources from the underlying consumer issue. Such lawsuits turn the justice system into a weapon, and have a serious chilling effect on the free speech that is so vital to the public interest. The lawsuits also cost media organizations thousands of dollars. Even a meritless suit can drag on for months – sometimes even years – and tactics such as aggressive discovery can pile on the costs.
The best protection against SLAPPs is a method to quickly dismiss suits that arise from protected speech – and the ability to recover the fees, costs and damages incurred in defending the meritless suit. Only about half the states have enacted legislation to protect against SLAPPs, but these vary in their strength and breadth. Moreover, there is no federal anti-SLAPP protection. This is why federal anti-SLAPP legislation is needed now – it would protect against SLAPPs in all states and at the federal level.
To find out more information about how SLAPPs affect your area of interest or where you live, please see the individual reports below.