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American Bar Association Newsletter Guest Story: Anti-SLAPP Laws: Taking the Punch from Defamation Suits
Laura Lee Prather

When author Carla Main wrote a book about the use of eminent domain by cities to gain property for a development, little did she know she would be “bulldozed” next in Court. Dallas developer, H. Walker Royall, not only sued the author for writing the book, but also sued a local Texas newspaper for writing a review of the book. Stories like Carla’s have inspired legislators across the country to enact powerful legislation aimed at limiting the impact of lawsuits that target those speaking out on matters of public concern.

SLAPPs (the acronym for “Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation”1) are civil claims or counterclaims filed against individuals or organizations based on their communications about issues of public interest or concern. The term “SLAPP” was devised by Professors George Pring and Penelope Canan, who studied the phenomenon and described how these lawsuits interfered with fundamental First Amendment rights.2

2 George W. Pring & Penelope Canan, SLAPPs: Getting Sued for Speaking Out (1996).

Excerpted from the American Bar Association Spring 2012 newsletter. To view full article, click here (subscription required).