Update (Nov. 10, 2020): On Nov. 10, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed A. 5991-A into law, expanding protections for New York journalists and others facing frivolous strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation that would improve protections for New York journalists who face frivolous strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs.
SLAPPs are suits brought by plaintiffs in an effort to suppress protected speech. These lawsuits, which frequently do not have an expectation of succeeding on the merits, use the threat of litigation and burdensome legal costs to significantly chill news reporting and the flow of information to the public.
In a letter sent to Gov. Cuomo on Nov. 5, the Reporters Committee highlighted that A. 5991-A would expand New York’s anti-SLAPP law by deterring claims that aim to suppress the right to free speech on matters of public interest, providing for a stay of discovery upon filing of a motion to dismiss a SLAPP suit and changing the current permissive fee-shifting to mandatory fee-shifting.
Mandatory fee-shifting is an important deterrent for SLAPPs, as it requires those who bring SLAPP suits to pay fees and costs, which discourages cases that will not succeed on the merits.
Earlier this year, the Reporters Committee submitted a letter to leadership in the New York state Senate and Assembly endorsing the bill.