Urges House to Quickly Consider SB 95

Harrisburg, April 25, 2017 — Focused on protecting the rights of people and organizations against frivolous lawsuits aimed at stifling free speech, state Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) today thanked his colleagues for their support of his legislation, Senate Bill 95, and said he looks forward to swift consideration by the House of Representatives.

The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 42 to 8.

“I am grateful for the bipartisan support for this important legislation,” Farnese said. “As a lawyer, I will be the first to admit that in many circumstances, lawsuits are necessary. But we must take action to prevent litigation that only exists to harass and intimidate.”

Senate Bill 95 would prevent SLAPP suits, which stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. If Farnese’s legislation becomes law, it would set up a procedure to quickly determine if a lawsuit is frivolous, or a SLAPP.

Farnese believes his legislation strikes a balance between the importance of speech related to issues of public interest and ensuring there is relief for victims of legitimate legal action.

Under Farnese’s proposal, if someone has engaged in protected communication, they would receive immunity from civil action. Should a judge approve a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the person or group originally sued would be permitted to recover legal fees and costs.

“We have allowed well-financed entities to use fear to silence well-intentioned civic and neighborhood groups by threatening them with these ridiculous and expensive SLAPP lawsuits,” said Farnese.

“Organizations in my district have been the target of SLAPP suits and targeted for nothing more than their work to further the public interest, with limited financial means to defend themselves in court. These organizations, like any other, deserve to have a voice and be heard loud and clear.”

If passed by the House of Representatives, Pa would join 27 other states with some form of anti-SLAPP protections.

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