Getting SLAPPed: A 21st Century Business Risk

Brenda Wells, Chad Marzen

Abstract


With the increasing use of the Internet and social media in small business operations, business owners should educate themselves on various types of legal action that can result from online activities. Here we examine the topic of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). A business can be “SLAPPed” by another party—sued for speaking out against or about that person or entity. And, at the same time, a business might ultimately be accused of “SLAPPing” someone it sues for defamation. Understanding the implications of SLAPPs is critical for small businesses. This article defines SLAPPs, discusses its history, examines legal issues relating to SLAPPs and insurance issues, and presents practical loss control solutions for those who are criticized online as well as those who wish to publish criticism or become active in some sort of public issue debate.

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 University of Houston-Clear Lake