Public Participation Project

Public Participation Project Review

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Published: 29 July 2017

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The Public Participation Project works to protect citizens from lawsuits designed to chill their ability to communicate with their government or speak out on issues of public interest. Such lawsuits, called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), pose serious dangers to free expression throughout the country. The Public Participation Project is working to enact legislation in Congress to provide protection from these lawsuits. For more information on SLAPPs, click here. What can you do to help? A LOT.. If someone walked into your home or business and stole $100,000 from you, what do you think would happen to them? Would you expect them to be arrested? Prosecuted? Sent to jail? Would you expect the courts to order them to repay the money they stole from you? Probably the last thing you would expect is for NOTHING to be done to the thief who stole your hard-earned money, but thats exactly what is happening in courts all across the United States every day! Groundless lawsuits aimed at suppressing free speech are needlessly costing small businesses millions of dollars a year. To the owners of small businesses who have been targeted by junk lawsuits, this is exactly the same thing as being robbed of $100,000 or more in legal fees spent defending a bogus case, but our current laws are allowing the guilty perpetrators to walk-away completely unpunished! Under the current state of Arizona law, if a person is unhappy about something posted online, they can file a lawsuit (or simply threaten to do so). The targets of these threats and suits are then faced with a choice remove speech that may be completely truthful and lawful, or pay huge legal fees to defend the case. These fees can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Making matters worse, even if a plaintiffs speech-related lawsuit is dismissed and found to be groundless, it is virtually impossible for the prevailing defendant to recover its attorneys fees. This puts website operators and their millions of users in a lose-lose situation, and its clogging our court system and pushing many small businesses to the brink of bankruptcy. Over the years, Ripoff Report has been repeatedly victimized by junk lawsuits aimed at shutting us down and stopping our users from voicing their complaint. We have even been sued by people who manufactured phony cases against us. Sadly, the courts have allowed this dishonest conduct to go almost entirely unpunished, resulting in losses of millions of dollars in wasted litigation expenses and legal fees. See below a list of lawsuits filed against Ripoff Report. There is a simple solution for this huge problem it is time to pass a new law known as an anti-SLAPP law — which helps curtail groundless lawsuits aimed at suppressing speech. California and several other states have passed broad anti-SLAPP laws which ensure that groundless lawsuits are quickly detected and dismissed, while allowing legitimate cases to proceed. In 2006, Arizona passed a scaled down anti-SLAPP law (ARS 12-751), but this law only applies to very narrow classes of speech and it does nothing to help website operators who are being threatened with sham lawsuits. In order to help protect innocent businesses and to protect the free speech rights of the public, and the time has come to pass a robust national anti-SLAPP law which will reduce junk lawsuits, save taxpayers money by unclogging the court system, and protect businesses from meritless lawsuits. If you are interested in learning more about what you can do to help this effort, you should visit www.anti-slapp.org or contact the Public Participation Project: Public Participation Project 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1100 Washington, DC 20036 (202) 664-3796 (email address removed by HolySmoke.org admin) Why is Ripoff Report so interested in anti-SLAPP laws? Over the years we have been targeted by literally dozens and dozens of junk/sham lawsuits which attacked us for allowing our users to exercise their First Amendment rights. Even though we prevailed in each case, in most cases the law did not allow us to automatically recover our attorneys fees though in some cases we have sued unsuccessful plaintiffs and their lawyers for abuse of process/malicious prosecution. Over the years, Ripoff Report has incurred millions of dollars in legal fees defending against such junk lawsuits.money that could and should have been spent on more productive things such as improving our site. A new anti-SLAPP law would immediately reduce the number of junk lawsuits which clog our court system. Here are links to just a few of the dozens of cases that Ripoff Report has fought over the years, many of which would have probably never been filed if a strong anti-SLAPP law had been in place — Asia Economic Institute v. Xcentric Ventures, LLC, 2011 WL 2469822 (C.D.Cal. 2011). This was a lawsuit filed against Ripoff Report by a company that had revenues of $0. We not only won the case, we are now suing the former plaintiffs Raymond Mobrez and Iliana Llaneras and their lawyers, Lisa Borodkin and Daniel Blackert for malicious prosecution.

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