Congress Considers Federal Anti-Slapp Law To Protect Consumers From Angry Businesses

The New York Times has an article about Justin Kurtz, the college student who angered the owner of T&J Towing by creating a Facebook page about the company and who is now fighting a $750k defamation lawsuit. That sort of lawsuit–the kind meant to intimidate an opponent into silence–is called a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or Slapp. Now two Representatives are sponsoring a bill that would create a federal anti-Slapp law to protect consumers from vengeful businesses.

Under the proposed federal law, if a case is dismissed for being a Slapp, the plaintiff would have to pay the defendant’s legal fees. Mr. Randazza would not disclose specifics on the legal fees he has charged his clients, but he said the cost of defending a single Slapp suit “could easily wipe out the average person’s savings before the case is half done.”

Currently, 27 states have anti-Slapp laws, and in two, Colorado and West Virginia, the judiciary has adopted a system to protect against such suits. But the federal bill would create a law in states that do not have one and offer additional protections in those that do, Mr. Goldowitz said.

“Venting Online, Consumers Can Find Themselves in Court” [New York Times]