Appeals Court: D.C. Anti-SLAPP Law’s Provision Not Available in Federal Court

A federal appellate court has made an important ruling regarding the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act. On Friday, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided Abbas v. Foreign Policy. While dismissing a defamation case against the Defendant, the Court also held that federal courts sitting in diversity jurisdiction may not apply the Anti-SLAPP Act’s special motion to dismiss provision. The Court reasoned that the provision conflicts with federal procedural rules and therefore does not apply in federal court.

The D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act helps protect those threatened with litigation arising out an “act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest.” It is defined to combat “SLAPPs” – Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. The law is most commonly associated with defamation lawsuits.

The Court’s ruling considerably impacts the landscape of defamation litigation in the District of Columbia. Some questions remain open – for instance, whether the Act’s special motion to quash provisions can still apply in federal court.

Have you or your organization been threatened with a defamation lawsuit? Would you like to reduce the risk of such lawsuits and ensure compliance with defamation and media laws? Ward & Ward PLLC has demonstrated success in these areas and can assist you. Call or email for a consultation with one of our attorneys.