Arizona’s anti-SLAPP law is narrow. It only protects against SLAPP suits brought in retaliation for the exercise of one’s right to petition the government. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 12-752(A) (2019). Protected petition activities are statements made as part of an initiative, referendum, or recall effort, or those submitted to a government proceeding concerning an issue under review by that body to influence its decisions, actions, or results. § 12-751(1). Government proceedings, for purposes of the law, include any non-judicial proceeding by an official or body of the federal or state government or any of the state’s political subdivisions, including local boards and commissions. § 12-751(2).
The Arizona anti-SLAPP law gives defendants the ability to file a motion to dismiss claims involving the exercise of this right of petition. § 12-752(A). The court must give “calendar preference” to the case and conduct an expedited hearing on the motion to dismiss. Id.
Unlike most anti-SLAPP laws, Arizona’s law does not address whether a SLAPP defendant’s motion to dispose of the claim will suspend discovery proceedings.
The statute requires an Arizona court to grant the motion to dismiss unless the plaintiff can show that the defendant’s claimed exercise of the petition right lacked any reasonable factual support or arguable basis in law, and that the defendant’s acts caused actual injury to the plaintiff. § 12-752(B). In making this determination, the court considers the plaintiff’s complaint, the SLAPP defendant’s motion to dismiss, and sworn statements containing facts on which the assertions in those documents are based. Id.
If a SLAPP defendant prevails on a motion to dismiss, the statute requires the court to award the defendant court costs and attorney’s fees. § 12-752(D). Conversely, if the court finds that the motion to dismiss was frivolous or brought solely to delay the proceedings, it “shall” award costs and attorney’s fees to the prevailing plaintiff. Id.