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SLAPPing Back

If you are successful in getting a SLAPP dismissed, and you can show that the SLAPP was brought for a purpose other than to resolve the issue by legal means — for example, the case was filed for the purposes of harassment, needlessly piling up defense costs, silencing opposition, and without probable cause — ask CASP about SLAPPing back. A SLAPPback is essentially a malicious prosecution lawsuit, which claims damages for being subject to a maliciously filed lawsuit. This could include damages for emotional distress and punitive damages.

In the past, juries in some SLAPPback suits have ordered SLAPP filers to pay large amounts of damages to the original SLAPP target. Some examples of successful SLAPPbacks are below.

However, the decision to initiate SLAPPback litigation should not be entered into lightly. A SLAPPback, like the original lawsuit, can take years to reach a final resolution.

Moreover, a SLAPPback is itself likely to be subject to the special motion to strike procedure set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. (However, the significance of such a motion is substantially reduced by section 425.18, which provides that the prevailing defendant attorney fee and immediate appeal provisions of section 425.16 do not apply to SLAPPbacks.)

Examples of successful SLAPPbacks:

    In Leonardini v. Shell Oil Co., the California Third District Court of Appeal affirmed a jury award of $5,197,000 to a consumer advocate and union attorney who had been SLAPPed by an oil company for reporting to a state health agency that there were cancer-causing substances in a product of the oil company used in home plumbing. (1989, 216 Cal.App.3d 547, 264 Cal.Rptr. 883.)
    In Wegis v. J. G. Boswell Company the California Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld an award of $11,100,000 to three family farmers who had been SLAPPed by a large corporate farmer for their publication of newspaper ads attacking the corporate farmer for its opposition to a water project ballot measure. (June 14, 1991, No. F011230, unpublished opinion.)
    In Tanner v. DeCom Medical Waste Systems a St. Louis jury in 1989 awarded $86,500,000 to a hospital worker who had been SLAPPed for writing to a newspaper reporter criticizing a company for seeking a permit for a medical waste incineration plant. (See George Pring and Penelope Canan, Getting Sued for Speaking Out, pp. 124, 179.)
    And in Humana Inc. v. Hemmeter, a Clark County (Nevada) district court awarded $9,800,000 to a doctor who had been SLAPPed by a large hospital chain for his advocacy of cost containment legislation before state legislative bodies and agencies. (Dec. 18, 1991, No. A274231.)

The information on this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. The information here is meant to provide general information to the public. We would be happy to consider your specific situation and the possibility of providing legal advice or assistance if you contact us directly.

Site last updated July 21, 2014 @ 11:30 am; This content last updated June 3, 2011 @ 6:03 pm