SLAPPs Against the Press and Media
SLAPPs in the News
- In Louisiana in 2009, the Lake Charles American Press was able to invoke the state’s anti-SLAPP law to dismiss a suit brought against it by a jet company, after the newspaper ran a series of reports that the company had sold contaminated fuel to the military. Henry v. Lake Charles American Press LLC, et. al., No. 08-30201 (Apr. 14, 2009).
- In 2006, Jay Leno, NBC and others were sued for defamation by a woman claiming defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress based on statements he made in the show. NBC took advantage of California’s anti-SLAPP motion to have the case dismissed, and fees and costs awarded, with the court holding that no reasonable person could understand Leno’s statements to be factual or defamatory. Drake v. Leno, 34 Med.L.Rptr. 2510 (2006).
- Also in 2006, a woman brought suit against Sacha Baron Cohen, Channel 4 Television network, and HBO’s Da Ali G Show, claiming that Cohen, while playing the role of “Ali G”, libeled her by name during a spoof interview with historian Gore Vidal. In dismissing the case in 2009, the court held that “no reasonable person could consider the statements made by Ali G on the program to be factual,” or therefore defamatory. It also held that the plaintiff’s signed release constituted separate and independent grounds for dismissal. Jane Doe v. Home Box Office, Inc., et al. SC092739 (Apr. 21, 2009)
- In 1995, the San Francisco Chronicle company invoked California’s anti-SLAPP law to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it and three reporters who had documented a dispute between a local university and the neighboring residents. Lafayette Morehouse, Inc. v. Chronicle Publishing Co., 37 Cal. App. 4th 855 (1995).
- In the early 1990s, disgruntled apple growers sued 60 Minutes and its parent companies, alleging more than $200 million in damages, following a story 60 Minutes ran about the harmful effects of the chemical alar, used in apple products. After five years of litigation, the suit was dismissed because apple growers could not point to any false statements in the broadcast. Auvil v. CBS “60 Minutes,” 67 F.3d 816 (1994).