by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 24th 2009 3:12am
This effort has been underway for some time, but it's great to see that a federal Anti-SLAPP law has finally been introduced. If you're unfamiliar with this, a little over half of the states in the US have their own anti-SLAPP laws, which help those who have been sued solely to shut them up. SLAPP, of course, stands for "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation," and it's used to describe bogus lawsuits that are solely designed to tie up someone who can't afford it in court -- thus often making them stop whatever activity (or speech) annoyed whoever sued them, rather than go through the process of fighting the bogus lawsuit in court. Anti-SLAPP laws let those sued in this manner to quickly fight back and get the bogus lawsuits dismissed. The problem, of course, is that right now it's a mishmash of state laws (or no laws at all), meaning that these sorts of bogus lawsuits are still brought all the time. A group of folks have been working for quite some time on putting together plans for a federal anti-SLAPP law, and Rep. Steve Cohen has finally introduced it -- with the key feature being that those sued can recover fees, which makes it much more likely that they can get lawyers who will defend them (on a contingency basis) to get the bogus lawsuits tossed out. I have no idea the likelihood of this particular proposal getting anywhere, but as someone who has been threatened with bogus lawsuits way too often, it would be nice to know the protections I have expand beyond California (which already has a pretty good anti-SLAPP law).
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