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(L to R) Esha Bandyopadhyay, Matthew Berntsen, and Meaghan Annett of Fish & Richardson (Photo: Courtesy Photo) (L to R) Esha Bandyopadhyay, Matthew Berntsen, and Meaghan Annett of Fish & Richardson (Photo: Courtesy Photo)

More than half of the states in the United States have enacted anti-SLAPP legislation, or laws to prevent a “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” These laws are intended to protect First Amendment rights of expression and free association, particularly against plaintiffs seeking to use a lawsuit to intimidate defendants into silence. While the anti-SLAPP laws in some states have not had significant impact, others offer a pathway to early dismissal.

Anti-SLAPP legislation provides a variety of relief to such defendants, including staying discovery while an anti-SLAPP motion is pending and awarding attorneys’ fees and costs if the motion is successful. Depending on the venue, an anti-SLAPP motion may be brought as a motion to dismiss or a special motion to strike the complaint. In all states, motions based on an anti-SLAPP statute must be filed early in the litigation, usually well before the start of costly and time-consuming discovery.

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