The Maine and Massachusetts SJCs have both recently issued multiple SLAPP suit decisions, so let’s compare, contrast and ponder. This is a very long blog entry, so I’ll summarize what’s coming:
- Both SJCs have long wrestled with this area of the law;
- One reason why is because the SLAPP statutes are being applied in ways that the legislatures probably did not originally portend;
- The Maine SJC’s most recent approach raises procedural and constitutional questions; and
- The Massachusetts SJC’s approach could provide a constructive path forward.
SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” In the 1990’s, the belief grew that more powerful developers were chilling the speech of less wealthy citizens by filing lawsuits against the latter when they opposed their projects. See Morse Bros., Inc. v. Webster, 2001 ME 70, ¶ 10 (“The typical mischief that the anti-SLAPP legislation intended to remedy was lawsuits directed at individual citizens