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Farnese Reintroduces Bill to Stop Frivolous Lawsuits
On March 31, 2015
HARRISBURG, March 31, 2015 – To help prevent well-financed groups from stifling opposition using the court system, state Sen. Larry Farnese said today he has re-introduced his bill to stop Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs.
The new proposal is Senate Bill 95, and it would give defendants the option to deflect a SLAPP suit through a motion to dismiss.
“If the motion is successful, defendants would recover attorney fees, costs and damages, related to a civil action taken against an individual or group of individuals for communications protected under the act,” Farnese said.
“The Old City Civic Association operated for 40 years in my district protecting the interests of merchants and residents but it was forced into the history books because of too many frivolous lawsuits.
“Too many good people and good groups like OCCA have had to disband because of the threat of ongoing and expensive litigation,” the senator said.
Farnese said SB 95 attempts to strike a balance between the importance of speech related to issues of public interest and making sure there is relief for victims of legitimate torts.
It also includes a SLAPP-back provision that would require those who frivolously invoke a motion to dismiss to pay the same attorneys fees and damages.
Throughout the U.S., 27 states have some form of anti-SLAPP protections.
Pennsylvania established limited protections from SLAPP lawsuits in 2000, but only in the narrow area of environmental law and regulations.
Sen. Farnese proposed similar legislation, Senate Bill 1095, in September 2013 to protect people and community groups from SLAPPs.