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Re: E-M:/ RE: / SLAPPS



As a practical matter the burden for defendants in SLAPP suites to overcome the good-faith standard this rule sets out is a high hurdle only overcome by the cash they must lay out  for legal fees that goes to the heart of why SLAPP suits are a harrassment tool.

jmgear wrote:
Anne Woiwode wrote:

The challenge in Michigan, as Bill Tobler pointed out in his response, is that nothing in law protects concerned citizens or activists nor authorizes costs to be paid to the victim of these nefarious plots. The attempt a few years ago to get legislation passed in Michigan failed, and unfortunately this is clearly still a state where the laws are not friendly to individuals are rightfully speak their minds about important issues of public controversy.

. . .


Things are actually slightly better than this would suggest.  Michigan court rule 2.114 includes this

(D)
Effect of Signature. The signature of an attorney or party, whether or not the party is represented by an attorney, constitutes a certification by the signer that

(1) he or she has read the document;

(2) to the best of his or her knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry, the document is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good-faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law; and

(3) the document is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation.

(E) Sanctions for Violation. If a document is signed in violation of this rule, the court, on the motion of a party or on its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay to the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the document, including reasonable attorney fees. The court may not assess punitive damages.

(F) Sanctions for Frivolous Claims and Defenses. In addition to sanctions under this rule, a party pleading a frivolous claim or defense is subject to costs as provided in MCR 2.625(A)(2). The court may not assess punitive damages.

And MCR 2.625(A)(2)  provides:

Frivolous Claims and Defenses. In an action filed on or after October 1, 1986, if the court finds on motion of a party that an action or defense was frivolous, costs shall be awarded as provided by MCL 600.2591.

Which takes you to

600.2591 Frivolous civil action or defense to civil action; awarding costs and fees to prevailing party; definitions.

Sec. 2591.

(1) Upon motion of any party, if a court finds that a civil action or defense to a civil action was frivolous, the court that conducts the civil action shall award to the prevailing party the costs and fees incurred by that party in connection with the civil action by assessing the costs and fees against the nonprevailing party and their attorney.

(2) The amount of costs and fees awarded under this section shall include all reasonable costs actually incurred by the prevailing party and any costs allowed by law or by court rule, including court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

(3) As used in this section:

(a) “Frivolous” means that at least 1 of the following conditions is met:

(i) The party's primary purpose in initiating the action or asserting the defense was to harass, embarrass, or injure the prevailing party.

(ii) The party had no reasonable basis to believe that the facts underlying that party's legal position were in fact true.

(iii) The party's legal position was devoid of arguable legal merit.

(b) “Prevailing party” means a party who wins on the entire record.

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Thus, any enviro who is SLAPPed in Michigan needs to (1) get a good attorney, pronto--don't waste time or stress trying to do this yourself; and have the attorney consider responses under these rules.  (Such as moving to dismiss, probably under MCR 2.116(c)(8), but other rules may also apply, and also a motion for sanctions.)

The essence of a SLAPP suit is precisely the grounds for sanctions stated in the court rules and in the statute--that a baseless action was filed to harass or intimidate the victim(s) by driving up the legal costs.

Note:  Although I am an attorney, I am not _your_ attorney, and nothing in this message is intended or should be construed as legal advice to you (except maybe the part about consulting a good attorney if you are ever SLAPPed).