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How California’s Anti-SLAPP Statute Can Impact Your Lawsuit

The Heritage Law Group Aug. 7, 2023

In California, some individuals, government bodies, and business owners often use Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suits to intimidate critics. However, the majority of these SLAPP cases involve expensive, baseless lawsuits or legal proceedings initiated just to censor, discourage, and silence public discussions. Fortunately, California's anti-SLAPP statutes can help mitigate people from using unfounded claims and lawsuits to prevent others from expressing their voices.  

At The Heritage Law Group, we provide experienced legal guidance and trusted advocacy to clients in anti-SLAPP lawsuit-related matters. Our practiced California business law attorney can inform you about the state's anti-SLAPP statute and help craft a strategic plan to counter any SLAPP suit filed against you. We're proud to serve clients across San Jose, Northern, and Southern California, as well as Houston, Fort Bend County, and Montgomery County, Texas. 

Understanding Anti-SLAPP Laws 

The main aim of the anti-SLAPP laws is to prevent or mitigate the use of the legal system, meritless lawsuits, courts, and possible threats of lawsuits, to silence and intimidate others from making their voices heard or exercising their First Amendment rights.   

As mentioned earlier, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suits are often filed by elected officials, government authorities, and businesses against individuals, entities, or organizations who criticize them on various issues that are of public concern. As a result, California's anti-SLAPP statutes were enacted to address "a disturbing increase" and serve as a remedy to SLAPP suits. 

California's Anti-SLAPP Law 

According to California Anti-SLAPP Law – California Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16 – "a cause of action against a person arising from any act of that person in furtherance of the person's right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue shall be subject to a special motion to strike unless the court determines that the plaintiff has established that there is a probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim." 

This means that SLAPP lawsuits in California will be subject to "a special motion to strike." However, if the plaintiff is unable to provide or meet the burden of proof that they will prevail in the lawsuit – or if the defendant prevails on the motion – the defendant will be eligible to recover attorney's fees and other legal costs from the claimant. 

How It Could Affect Your Lawsuit 

California's anti-SLAPP law can affect your lawsuit in different ways. These include: 

Motion to Strike the Complaint 

California's anti-SLAPP statute permits the defendant to file a motion to strike the complaint. In the event that the court grants the motion, attorney's fees and legal costs will be imposed on the claimant. 

Matters of Public Interest 

Secondly, the court will consider various factors to determine if a statement relates to matters of public interest. Statements that comment on or report controversial social, political, and economic issues often qualify as matters of public interest. 

SLAPP back Lawsuit 

Also, if the defendant can show that the claimant filed the suit to harass, intimidate, or discourage the critic, they may be entitled to file a "SLAPPback" lawsuit against the plaintiff. By filing a SLAPPback lawsuit, the defendant may be able to seek relief – such as legal costs and attorney's fees – from the claimant for abuse of legal proceedings.  

A dedicated California business litigation attorney can assess the surrounding circumstances of your case, determine how anti-SLAPP laws can affect your lawsuit, and help you make informed decisions. 

Get the Help You Need: Reach Out Today 

Using California's Anti-SLAPP laws to counter a SLAPP petition may involve several challenging procedures and paperwork. Also, issues regarding evidence can make your case even more difficult and complicated. Therefore, if you need proper guidance on how to counter a SLAPP suit filed against you, speaking with a business law attorney is extremely beneficial.  

At The Heritage Law Group, our team can assist you through the entire anti-SLAPP lawsuit. We can assess your situation and outline an effective defense strategy to dispute the SLAPP lawsuit filed against you. In addition, we will fight vigorously to uphold your First Amendment rights and protect you from any individual or entity trying to intimidate you with meritless lawsuits.  

Contact us at The Heritage Law Group today to speak with a dependable attorney. Our reliable legal team has the strong representation and legal guidance you need in your anti-SLAPP lawsuit. We're proud to serve clients across San Jose, Northern, and Southern California, as well as Houston, Fort Bend County, and Montgomery County, Texas.