ALBANY – Legislation that protects citizens’ rights to free speech and petition by deterring abusive “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” known as SLAPPs, was signed into law by Governor Cuomo last Tuesday.
SLAPP lawsuits are frivolous litigation brought by affluent plaintiffs who have the ability to spend large amounts of money by using expensive and time-consuming litigation to obstruct those exercising their right to free speech. The legislation amends the civil rights law to require costs and attorney’s fees to be recovered regarding these frivolous lawsuits, which will deter plaintiffs from bringing such lawsuits in the first place.
“For too long, powerful and wealthy interests have used frivolous lawsuits to harass and intimidate critics by burdening them with exorbitant legal fees and time consuming legal processes. That ends now,” Cuomo said, noting the new measure “protects New Yorkers’ fundamental right to free speech without fear of harassment or bullying by those who happen to have more money than they do.”