Sued for starting a website and hounded in legal fees for trying to speak the truth about a corporation. This is what happened to Bradley D. Jones in 2004 when Radio Shack filed a SLAPP suit against him for starting RadioShackSucks.com. Should companies be able to use SLAPP laws to push away lawsuits with legal fees? Now, what is a SLAPP suit? A SLAPP is a ‘strategic lawsuit against public participation’. Essentially, when a business doesn’t like what somebody or a company is saying about them, they file a lawsuit against them. Winning is not the goal of these suits, the goal is to scare the other party into silence. The people for SLAPP say that these are necessary at times to protect companies from frivolous lawsuits. Others say that it infringes upon their first amendment rights to speak out against these companies. As Jones himself said “I’m just one little guy against a multi-million- or billion-dollar corporation”. Jones was trying to speak out about Radio Shack’s poor overtime policy. He had many people who were on his side. The second he began to grow traction Radio Shack took action.
These SLAPP lawsuits take away the everyday citizen’s freedom of speech. SLAPPing makes it almost impossible to speak out against a corporation’s actions. According to the Public Participation Project, the United States Supreme Court has said that citizens have the right to petition the government. These lawsuits could silence critical public opinion and do not allow people to voice concern. Many states have enacted anti-SLAPP laws and others have proposed them. Although many companies will say that some lawsuits are ‘frivolous’ and only meant for ‘defamation’, we still must take due process into account. It should not be up to the business to take away someone’s right to speak out.
Latimes.com. (2015). U.S. needs an anti-SLAPP law like California’s. [online] Available at: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-slapp-20150816-story.html# [Accessed 26 Sep. 2018].
McDevitt, J. (2013). Whacked By Lawsuit Costs, Old City Civic Association Disbands. [online] Philadelphia.cbslocal.com. Available at: https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/05/16/whacked-by-lawsuit-costs-old-city-civic-association-disbands/ [Accessed 28 Sep. 2018].
Public Participation Project. (n.d.). What is a SLAPP?. [online] Available at: https://anti-slapp.org/what-is-a-slapp/ [Accessed 29 Sep. 2018].