HARRISBURG, May 5, 2015 – State Sen. Larry Farnese issued the following statement today following the Senate Judiciary Committee’s unanimous approval of his legislation to help stop Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs.

“It’s well known that big fish eat little fish, but today we made a significant stride to protect the little fish.”

“For too long well-financed entities have been scaring away and killing well-intentioned civic and neighborhood groups by threatening them with expensive, frivolous legal actions.

“So I am grateful the Senate Judiciary Committee has considered the merits of my Senate Bill 95 and has sent it to the full chamber for its consideration.

“Groups like the Old City Civic Association have been forced to close as a result of frivolous lawsuits, despite their 40 year history of good, local advocacy and fighting for justice.

“Lawsuits are often necessary, but we cannot allow litigation to be a means to harass and intimidate.

“When SB 95 goes to Gov. Tom Wolf for his approval, the victims of bogus legal actions will have the ability to recover attorney fees, costs and damages. They will have the incentive and the tools to fight back and continue their good work.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-0 in its approval of the legislation.

Farnese said SB 95 strikes a balance between protecting speech related to issues of public interest and providing relief for victims of legitimate torts.

There is also a SLAPP-back provision, the senator said, that would require those who frivolously invoke a motion to dismiss to pay the same attorney’s fees and damages.

Twenty-seven states have some form of anti-SLAPP protections.

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