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David H. Schwartz Nov. 10, 2020

In 2019, at least 435 anti-SLAPP motions were filed in California's trial courts by litigants. Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are often used to intimidate, censor, and silence critics through expensive, baseless legal proceedings. Thankfully, anti-SLAPP laws serve as a tool for preventing people from using baseless lawsuits to intimidate and silence people from exercising their First Amendment rights. 

If you're looking to understand California's anti-SLAPP statute and how it affects your lawsuit, it is important that you consult with an experienced business litigation attorney for proper guidance. Attorney David Schwartz provides comprehensive guidance and strong representation to clients who want to counter a SLAPP suit filed against them. Mr. Schwartz can examine your unique situation and help you understand how to enforce your right to free speech under the California Constitution.

The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. is proud to serve clients throughout Santa Clara, San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda County, San Mateo, and the San Francisco Bay Area of California.

Understanding California's Anti-SLAPP Statute

California's anti-SLAPP laws are designed to provide a remedy to SLAPP lawsuits. The purpose of the anti-SLAPP statute is to prevent people from using courts, unfounded lawsuits, or potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate and silence other people from exercising their right of petition or free speech under the First Amendment.

How it Works

California's anti-SLAPP statute involves a two-step process.

First Step

The first step requires the defendant to make a motion striking out the case and showing that the allegations in the complaint arise from petitioning or free speech activity that involves a matter of public concern. This may include any statement made in a public forum or in connection with an executive, legislative, judicial, or other official proceedings. If the lawsuit potentially harms the right of petition or free speech, the defendant's requirement is satisfied.

Second Step

The second step requires the plaintiff to show that they have substantial evidence or proof that they will prevail in the lawsuit with each challenged claim. That is, the anti-SLAPP statute will require the plaintiff to demonstrate that they have enough evidence which could result in a favorable judgment.

If the plaintiff is unable to meet or provide the burden of proof required in the second step and the lawsuit is dismissed through anti-SLAPP proceedings, the defendant may be able to recover attorney's fees from the plaintiff.

How Can It Impact Your Lawsuit?

California's Anti-SLAPP statute impacts your lawsuit in the following ways:

  • Issue of Public Interest: Several factors will be considered when determining whether a statement relates to an issue of public interest. Statements that report or comment on controversial economic, political, and social issues usually qualify.

  • Motion to Strike the Complaint: Also, California's anti-SLAPP law allows a defendant to file a motion to strike the complaint. If the motion is granted, the court will impose attorney's fees and costs on the plaintiff.

  • SLAPPback Lawsuit: In addition, California's anti-SLAPP law gives a successful defendant who can prove that the plaintiff filed the lawsuit to silence, intimidate, or harass the speaker the chance to file a "SLAPPback" lawsuit against the plaintiff. The SLAPPback lawsuit enables the defendant to recover damages, including attorney's fees and costs, from the plaintiff for abuse of the legal process.

How David H. Schwartz Can Help

Using California's Anti-SLAPP statute to counter a SLAPP suit can involve a lot of complexities. Evidentiary issues can make the case even more complicated and overwhelming. If you need to counter a SLAPP suit filed against you or if you want to understand California's anti-SLAPP statute and how it impacts your lawsuit, it is important that you consult with a knowledgeable California business litigation attorney for detailed guidance.

Attorney David H. Schwartz has been handling legal matters, such as those involving Anti-SLAPP lawsuits, for more than 45 years. Using his extensive understanding of California's Anti-SLAPP statute, Mr. Schwartz can help protect you from anyone who wants to intimidate you with expensive, baseless legal proceedings. He will assess your unique situation and determine your best defense against a SLAPP lawsuit brought against you.

Contact the Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. today to schedule a one-on-one case evaluation with a knowledgeable California business litigation attorney. Attorney David H. Schwartz can fight vigorously on your side to protect your rights to petition or free speech. Mr. Schwartz proudly serves clients throughout San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda County, San Mateo, Oakland, and the San Francisco Bay Area of California.