Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-981

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING STRATEGIC LITIGATION AGAINST PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND A SPECIAL MOTION TO DISMISS.

Vote Date:

3/31/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/27/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The CT Broadcasters Association wanted to see legislation end these types of lawsuits (SLAPP) which affect the media the most in their exercise of first amendment rights to free speech and not have to fight constant frivolous and often expensive litigation.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

LCO # 5899, changed the effective date of the bill to Oct. 1, 2017, and applicable to any civil action filed on or after said date.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Judicial Branch: Request effective date be October 1, 2017 and also concerned that the special motion to dismiss created by the bill must be filed not later than 60 days after service of the complaint, counterclaim or cross claim.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

CT Broadcasters Association: support S.B. 981 as it is intended to ensure the right of all citizens to comment on matters of public interest without being intimidated by costly and baseless lawsuits. Approximately 29 states and DC have enacted similar legislation which are generally known as “anti-SLAPP” laws (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation).

CT Broadcasters Association, Patrick McCabe: supports the language that the CTLA has proposed for this bill.

CT Trial Lawyers Association: supports bill with amendment to section (h) which adds (2) Apply to product liability claims, medical negligence or nursing home negligence claims, any claims for personal injury, wrongful death or workers compensation benefits. Also provides definition of “SLAPP” as provided by Wikipedia. The concern with the bill is that it must be crafted narrowly so that the law may only be used for its intended purpose and not abused.

ESPN: supports and urges the committee to join the majority of other states and DC that have enacted anti-SLAPP legislation and pass bill 981.

CT Daily Newspaper Association: Supports and feels it is an important measure to provide protections for citizens of CT who wish to voice their opinion, publicly, without the threat of intimidation, real or perceived, of costly, baseless and intrusive lawsuits.

WFSB, Morning Anchor/Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Parker: WFSB feels bill is so important, as it gives defendants a way to short circuit litigation that's merely designed to threaten, intimidate and harass

WFSB-TV 3, Vice President/General Manager Klarn DePalma,: Frivolous lawsuits have become a major hurdle for CT journalists. There isn't a mechanism in place right now to stop the suits, but proposed bill 981 would. They are urging support.

CBIA Counsel, Louise DiCocco: Urges support of this bill to protect citizens and businesses from being frivolously sued.

Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.: Supports, but looks forward to working with the bill's sponsors to strengthen several of its provisions, consistent with anti-SLAPP legislation in other states to ensure that the statute provides an effective means to combat lawsuits targeting First Amendment rights.

Society of Professional Jornalists of CT, President Michael Savino: They believe this bill strikes a good balance and asks that it be adopted.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

ACLU, Executive Director David McGuire: Opposes the bill in its current form. We do support the passage of a carefully calibrated anti-SLAPP legislation. Suggested language has been attached.

Reported by: Staci M. Roy

Date: 4/10/2017