About Time: New York Finally Passes Anti-SLAPP Bill

from the crazy-that-it-took-this-long dept

It’s been truly amazing that, for years, despite being the heart of the media business in the US, New York state had a pathetically weak anti-SLAPP bill. It only applied to issues related to petitioning the government. So you were protected from lawsuit if you were complaining about a law or zoning issues, but these days most SLAPP suits are unrelated to such things. So it’s exciting to find out that the New York legislature has finally passed a real anti-SLAPP law. The actual bill expands the coverage of NY’s anti-SLAPP law to include:

Any communication in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest; or ii. Any other lawful conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of free speech in connection with an issue of public interest, or in furth- erance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition. The bill also specifies that “public interest” should be broadly construed.

That’s… great. Like many other anti-SLAPP laws, this one seeks to stop expensive discovery early on until the plaintiff can prove their case has a chance, and expands the situations in which attorneys’ fees will be awarded to the defendant who was victimized by a SLAPP suit. The new law says that such costs and fees:

“shall be recovered upon a demonstration that a SLAPP suit was commenced or continued without a substantial basis in fact or law and could not be supported by a substantial argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.”

NY Senator Brad Hoylman took a well deserved victory lap for getting this bill through (it still needs to be signed by Governor Cuomo):

Of course, given that we were just talking about how the 2nd Circuit (which covers NY), has decided that state anti-SLAPP laws don’t apply in federal court, that still means that those wishing to bring SLAPP suits there can get around the law by coming up with some federal cause of action. This is yet another reminder of why we need a federal anti-SLAPP law already and it’s a travesty we don’t have one yet.

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