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Credit: Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock.com Credit: Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock.com

A split Washington state Supreme Court ruled that a government contractor—in this case, a law firm hired to perform an independent investigation of the Washington Attorney General’s Office—qualifies as a “person” under the state’s 1989 anti-SLAPP statute and is entitled to civil immunity from retaliatory litigation.

In a 5-4 ruling filed Jan. 28, the majority reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the trial court’s judgment in Leishman v. Ogden Murphy Wallace. The court was asked whether to exclude an otherwise covered individual or organization from immunity under the state’s anti-SLAPP law—RCW 4.24.510—because it was paid under a contract with the government to conduct an investigation and report the findings to a government agency. SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.”

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Suzette Parmley

Trenton Correspondent who covers the N.J. Supreme Court, Governor, Legislature. She also contributes to The Legal Intelligencer and law.com. Suzette joined New Jersey Law Journal in Jan. 2019 from the Philadelphia Inquirer where she was a former Trenton Statehouse Correspondent and Business Reporter/Columnist. Awards: 1st Place for 2020 coverage of NJ Supreme Court; 2019 Specialized Writing Category, 5-time winner of the Business Financial Writing Portfolio Award from the New Jersey Press Association. Graduate of the Fels Center of Government/University of Pennsylvania. Email: [email protected] or follow on Twitter: @SuzParmley

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