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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: May 14, 2018 04:00 PM
From: Representative Martina A. White
To: All House members
Subject: Anti SLAPP Resolution
In the near future, I plan to introduce a resolution asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to adopt procedural rules that would address SLAPP lawsuits in Pennsylvania.

SLAPP is an acronym that stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” A SLAPP is a lawsuit against a person or an organization with a primary purpose of silencing that person or organization. The suit might allege defamation, invasion of privacy, nuisance or interference with contract, but the legal theory is largely irrelevant; most often, the plaintiff in a SLAPP suit doesn’t really expect to win on the merits. Instead, the true goal is to bankrupt the defendant by forcing them to defend the suit. Even a meritless suit can take years to resolve and tens of thousands of dollars to defend.

Legislation has been introduced as Senate Bill 95 to help address this abuse of the judicial process for the purpose of stifling free and open speech. However, after studying the legislation and laws in other jurisdictions and consulting with counsel, the conclusion was such that many of these laws are largely ineffective. It is expressed in the Pennsylvania Constitution that the Supreme Court has the sole authority to change procedures of the court and is best equipped to address the issue through its rulemaking power and sanctioning authority.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this resolution.