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New Jersey

There is no anti-SLAPP statute in New Jersey. Moreover, the state’s intermediate appellate court has declined to recognize a “SLAPPback” lawsuit, finding it unnecessary given the existence of the similar but broader tort of malicious use of process, which the court reiterated with strong language. LoBiondo v. Schwartz, 323 N.J. Super. 391, 422 (N.J. App. Div. 1999). The plaintiff in a malicious use of process action must prove that the original action was brought without probable cause and motivated by malice, terminated favorably for the plaintiff, and caused the plaintiff to suffer a special grievance. Id. at 423. Courts have held that the malice element is met by showing that the purpose of the underlying SLAPP suit was to retaliate against the defendant for exercising his or her constitutional rights of expression or petition, to stop the defendant from further exercising these rights, or both. Id. A “special grievance” means an interference with a liberty interest, which may include suppression of public debate. Id. at 423–24.

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