Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What is a SLAPP suit?

Activists, here's something you need to know about. Let me boost your legal knowledge a bit. What is a SLAPP suit? According to nolo.com it's:
"A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, in which a corporation or developer sues an organization in an attempt to scare it into dropping protests against a corporate initiative. SLAPP suits typically involve the environment--for example, local residents who are petitioning to change zoning laws to prevent a real estate development might be sued in a SLAPP suit for interference with the developer's business interests. Many states have "anti-SLAPP suit" statutes that protect citizens' rights to free speech and to petition the government."

What to do if SLAPPed? The Anti-SLAPP Resource Center has some answers.

Here's a couple examples of SLAPP suits from Headwaters Preserve.
Corporate SLAPP suits Against Forest Protesters Begin, Maxxam/PL Has Filed Numerous Lawsuits to Quell Protests
The trial of Pacific Lumber (PL) and Scotia Pacific (ScoPac) Corporations versus Kim Starr (Verbena) began with opening statements last Thursday (see below) in Judge Watson's Superior Court in Humboldt county. It took an astounding 8 days to seat a jury in a jury selection process that weeded out anyone who seemed passionate about the earth and people unhappy
with 'corporate personhood'.

This is the first of three civil lawsuits, known as S.L.A.P.P suits, filed by the timber company against forest activists. "S.L.A.P.P" stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and are a strategy employed by corporations, usually those in the extractive industries, to quell opposition against their practices. Verbena, a well known local forest activist, is representing herself against the harassment lawsuit for alleged civil trespass related to a protest at PL headquarters in Scotia in 2002, to call attention to damaging logging in the Mattole River watershed. The case number is DR020478, Pacific Lumber et al v. Jonathan Laine, Kimberly Starr et al.

A second SLAPP suit filed against people involved in forest protests that took place in the Mattole area itself in 2001 is in discovery phase. The third SLAPP suit is focused on the Freshwater watershed protests of March 2003, when treesitter Remedy and others were removed from high up in ancient redwoods they had occupied for up to a year alongside Greenwood Heights Road. Over forty people were arrested at that time during intense public protests. Large crowds turned out to witness and protest the cutting of the ancient trees as well as the sometimes brutal and always reckless extractions performed by Eric Schatz of Schatz Tree Service and his employees, under contract to PL.

Maxxam/PL has filed at least six of these SLAPP harassment lawsuits against critics of their liquidation logging practices, the first in 1987. The suits currently in court were filed between 2001 and 2003.

Yes, this is something to watch out for. It's why the word 'satire' appears in the title of this page.

1 comment:

responsible_dvlpmnt said...

Visit http://missouricitychatter.blogspot.com for local SLAPP-suit by a developer here for petitioning activity against certain inequitable land use and development practices.