The Nevada senate voted 21-0 to repeal much of Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law. Unfortunately, none of the Nevada news outlets have reported this.
Currently, Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law deters frivolous defamation lawsuits. It immunes those that speak or write the truth or give an opinion on a topic of public concern from lawsuits.
A SLAPP is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Opponents have been known to file these types of lawsuits to silence critics. These can be expensive to defend. Too often, the person with the deepest pockets wins, regardless of the merits of the case, because the defendant cannot afford the legal fees to stand up for their rights.
As the law passed in 2013 is written now, a defendant that has a SLAPP suit filed against them can request a special hearing. If the judge agrees that the lawsuit is a SLAPP, it is immediately tossed. The plaintiff owes the defendant attorney’s fees and up to $10,000 as decided by the judge. The victim of the SLAPP suit can then file a suit seeking punitive damages.
SB 444 would remove the recovery of attorney’s fees, the potential monetary relief of up to $10,000 that goes to the defendant, and the explicit ability to bring separate action for punitive damages. It also removes language that immunes those that speak the truth and their opinions on matters of public concern from these types of lawsuits.
If you live in Nevada, the time to speak up about protecting our free speech is now. This is where you can find your state lawmakers. You can comment directly on SB 444 here.
Governor Sandoval signed the anti-SLAPP bill into law two years ago. Make sure to contact him to remind him of that in the hopes that he vetoes SB 444 if it makes it to his desk.
It is hard to think there is any positive motive or agenda behind this repeal. An easy conclusion to draw is that someone is unhappy that their defamation lawsuit machine was put out of business by it. We shouldn’t be allowing those types of motives repeal great laws that protect free speech and the citizens of Nevada.
Marc Randazza was behind the push in 2013 to pass an anti-SLAPP in Nevada. He had this to say on Twitter last night:
Well the Nevada anti SLAPP law was nice while it lasted. SB 444 eviscerates it.
— Marc J. Randazza (@marcorandazza) April 16, 2015