Ryan Baker Interviewed by Law.com About Anti-SLAPP Defenses

Partner Ryan Baker, interviewed by Law.com on December 15, 2022, About the proliferation of anti-SLAPP suits said, “The cure has become the disease. Anti-SLAPP has become bloated … it’s become a problem for real plaintiffs …”

Anti-SLAPP, shorthand for anti-strategic lawsuits against public participation, law is intended to protect First Amendment and petitioning rights. “There’s a catch-all provision of the Anti-SLAPP statute, which essentially says, ‘Anything that’s a matter of public interest, or relates to a matter of public interest or public dialogue [is protected],’” said Baker. The law is meant to protect litigants from abusive lawsuits, but wealthy defendants frequently use anti-SLAPP motions early in the cases to essentially freeze the action and require the plaintiff to surmount what can be a formidable challenge—it is difficult if you are “a little guy filing a suit [to overcome] anything that can touch upon public interest.”

Baker overcame the public interest hurdle in 2019 in a unanimous decision, FilmOn.com Inc. v. DoubleVerify Inc., by the California Supreme Court because the case dealt with private, confidential contract. Notably, however, the trial court and court of appeal had found the conduct protected.

Venue matters said Baker. He said a key reason Depp’s attorneys took the viral defamation case of Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard to Virginia was to escape California’s much tougher anti-SLAPP statute. “In California, the case would have been dead on arrival … it just illustrates the difference between states.”

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