Indiana

To challenge a lawsuit as a SLAPP suit in Indiana, a defendant must show that he is being sued for any act “in furtherance of the person’s right of petition or free speech under the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Indiana in connection with a public issue.” Ind. Code 34-7-7-5 (2011). He must also show that the action was “taken in good faith and with a reasonable basis in law and fact.” Moreover, the action must be “lawful,” meaning that speech constituting defamation, extortion or any other unlawful act will fall outside the protection of the statute. 34-7-7-9(d). Although the statute does not define the right of petition or free speech in connection with a public issue, Indiana courts have interpreted it to include media coverage of newsworthy events, including a newspaper’s coverage of a town council, Poulard v. Lauth, 793 N.E.2d 1120 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003); a newspaper’s publication of a town attorney’s statements about another attorney, Shepard v. Schurz Commc’ns, Inc., 847 N.E.2d 219 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006); and a television station’s investigative report about the safety and legality of pharmaceuticals, CanaRx Servs., Inc. v. LIN Television Corp., No. 1:07-cv-1482-LJM-JMS, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42236 (S.D. Ind. May 29, 2008).

The Indiana anti-SLAPP law allows a defendant to file a motion to dismiss the complaint, which the court will hear and decide within 180 days. Ind. Code 34-7-7-9. Discovery activities irrelevant to the motion are placed on hold once it is filed. 34-7-7-6. Under the statute, the defendant must specify the public issue that prompted his speech or petition activity. 34-7-7-9. If he can show by a preponderance of the evidence that the act on which the SLAPP suit is based is a lawful one in furtherance of the constitutional rights of free speech or petition, the court will grant the motion. In making this determination, the judge will consider the plaintiff’s complaint, the SLAPP defendant’s motion to dismiss and any sworn statements containing facts on which the assertions in those documents are based.

If a SLAPP defendant prevails on the motion to dismiss, he is entitled to recover costs and attorney fees. 34-7-7-7. Conversely, the defendant must pay the plaintiff’s costs and attorney fees if the court finds that the motion to dismiss was frivolous or brought solely to delay the proceedings. 34-7-7-8.