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Testimony: Maryland Should Approve Strong Anti-SLAPP Bill to Protect Consumers

Feb. 9, 2016


Testimony: Maryland Should Approve Strong Anti-SLAPP Bill to Protect Consumers

Anti-SLAPP Laws Needed to Protect Free Speech on Public Interest Issues

WHAT: Testimony on a proposal to improve Maryland’s anti-SLAPP statute. Paul Alan Levy, an attorney with Public Citizen, will testify before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee about HB 263 – a bill that would bolster Maryland’s anti-SLAPP law to provide a comparable level of protection for speech on matters of public interest as many other states have.

SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) lawsuits often are used to silence consumers who have criticized a business or others in the marketplace. These damaging suits discourage open discourse by targeting those who speak out critically on issues of public interest. Anti-SLAPP laws provide speakers a procedure for seeking early dismissal of the lawsuit and create a both a financial deterrent to filing SLAPPs and incentive for private lawyers to defend consumers in those cases.

Levy will explain that HB 263 is a good start to providing a strong anti-SLAPP law, but that the bill should be amended to include exceptions for pro-consumer litigation (for example, a consumer lawsuit about false advertising) comparable to strong, similarly worded anti-SLAPP statutes in other states. In the bill’s current form, it could be used in a wide range of ordinary consumer lawsuits that do not pose the problems of SLAPP suits.

WHEN: 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 10

WHERE: Room 100, House Office Building, 6 Bladen St., Annapolis, Md.

WHO: Paul Alan Levy, attorney, Public Citizen