The Nebraska anti-SLAPP law is narrow. It only protects defendants in lawsuits involving public petition and participation. Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-21, 243(1) (2019). A lawsuit involving public petition and participation means a lawsuit brought by a “public applicant or permittee” that is “materially related to any efforts of the defendant to report on, comment on, rule on, challenge, or oppose the application or permission[.]”§ 25-21, 242(1). A “public applicant or permittee” is defined as “any person who has applied for or obtained a permit, zoning change, lease, license, certificate, or other entitlement for use or permission to act from any government body or any person with an interest, connection, or affiliation with such person that is materially related to such application or permission.” § 25-21, 242(4).
Although the law does not specifically provide for a special anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss, if a court considers a motion to dismiss an action involving public petition and participation, it must expedite and grant preference in hearing the motion. § 25-21, 245.
Nebraska’s law does not address whether an anti-SLAPP motion suspends discovery proceedings.
The law requires the court to grant the anti-SLAPP motion unless the plaintiff can show that the claim has a substantial basis in law or is supported by a substantial argument for a modification of existing law. Id. The plaintiff must also establish by clear and convincing evidence that the communication was made with knowledge of, or reckless disregard for, its falsity if such truth or falsity is material to the underlying claim. § 25-21, 244. The statute does not specify what evidence a court will consider in making this determination.
If the court grants the motion to dismiss, it may—but is not required to—order the plaintiff to pay the prevailing SLAPP defendant’s attorney’s fees and costs. § 25-21, 243. The court may also award damages to a successful defendant who can show that the plaintiff brought the claim “for the purpose of harassing, intimidating, punishing, or otherwise maliciously inhibiting the free exercise of petition, speech, or association rights.” Id.