The Missouri anti-SLAPP law is narrow. It only applies to conduct or speech made in connection with a public hearing or public meeting in a “quasi-judicial proceeding” before a government “tribunal or decision-making body.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.528(1) (2019). A public meeting in a quasi-judicial proceeding includes any meeting held by a state or local governmental entity, including meetings of or presentations before state, county, city, town, or village councils, planning commissions, or review boards. § 537.528(4).
The state’s intermediate appellate court has held that the underlying claim must be for money damages and not declaratory or injunctive relief, which seek, respectively, determinations from a court about a particular legal issue or court orders to bar certain acts. Moschenross v. St. Louis County, 188 S.W.3d 13, 25 (Mo. Ct. App. 2006).
The court will consider the motion to dismiss “on a priority or expedited basis.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.528(1). If the court fails to rule on the motion in an expedited fashion, either party is entitled to seek expedited review in the appellate court, although the statute does not define “expedited.” Id.
Missouri’s anti-SLAPP statute places an absolute hold on discovery activities from the time the motion is filed until not only the trial court has ruled on it, but until all appeals regarding it are exhausted. Id. That is, Missouri courts are not statutorily authorized to permit discovery, even if the requesting party can show good cause for it.
The statute does not specify what standard a court will use to decide an anti-SLAPP motion or what evidence it will consider in making this determination.
If the court grants the anti-SLAPP motion, it will impose attorney’s fees and costs on the plaintiff, assuming the defendant complied with certain filing deadlines. Id. at § 537.528(2). Conversely, the court will award attorney’s fees and costs to the plaintiff if it finds that the motion to dismiss was frivolous or brought solely to delay the proceedings. Id. Either party is entitled to expedited appellate review of the court’s decision on the motion to dismiss. § 537.528(3).