KeywordsStrategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation
Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics
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AbstractA majority of the states and the District of Columbia have enacted “anti-SLAPP” statutes, which set forth a procedure for obtaining an early dismissal of a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or a “SLAPP,” as labeled by George W. Pring and Penelope Canan. These types of cases, often alleging defamation or a similar tort, should be discouraged, according to the anti-SLAPP advocates, because the true intent of the plaintiff is to “chill” speech rather than obtain compensation. The paradigm of a SLAPP is a lawsuit filed by a large, well-funded corporation against an “ordinary citizen” who has spoken out in some public forum against the interests of the business. We conducted an empirical study to determine whether this “David v Goliath” scenario holds, or to answer the question: Who is “SLAPPing” whom? Using text mining techniques, we determined that the cases do not conform to the theoretical model.