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Anti-SLAPP Laws Cited in Dismissal of Marilyn Manson Defamation Suit: What is a SLAPP lawsuit?


A very public legal battle between musician Marilyn Manson and actress Evan Rachel Wood (and additional defendant, Illma Gore) has put a spotlight on SLAPP laws. A California judge recently tossed out the bulk of a defamation lawsuit against Wood that Manson filed in early 2022. Wood’s two-part HBO documentary, Phoenix Rising, had just been released, and detailed accusations of assault and abuse by Manson. The suit claimed that Wood and her collaborator (Gore) pressured women into coming forward against the singer, even going so far as to forge an FBI letter to “recruit” the women. The Court’s decision has effectively struck down 10 of Manson’s objections to Wood’s anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss his defamation case against her.

What is a SLAPP lawsuit?

SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.” The term was coined to recognize lawsuits filed to silence criticism. A SLAPP suit may look like a civil lawsuit for defamation, nuisance, interference with contract, interference with economic advantage, or invasion of privacy, but its purpose is different. This kind of civil claim is filed against an individual or an organization arising out of that party’s speech or communication to government about an issue of public concern. At the heart of the SLAPP suit is the petition clause of the First Amendment.

Anti-SLAPP laws provide defendants a way to quickly dismiss these kinds of meritless lawsuits. These laws aim to discourage the filing of SLAPP suits and prevent them from imposing significant litigation costs and chilling protected speech. California’s anti-SLAPP statute functions as a safeguard for individuals exercising their First Amendment speech rights—notably, domestic violence survivors, who all too often become targets for defamation suits.

In recent years, several states have adopted or amended their anti-SLAPP laws. As of April 2022, 32 states and the District of Columbia have anti-SLAPP laws, including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

SLAPP laws are a complex legal matter and require the guidance of an experienced business litigation attorney. If you have questions, it’s important to consult with an attorney who specializes in defamation lawsuits, as local laws can vary. Contact Pike & Lustig, LLP at 561-291-8298 now to speak to a South Florida business litigation attorney and we will be happy to answer all of your questions.

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