“Proposed legislation could protect online reviewers from retaliatory suits”
If you’ve never heard of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), consider yourself lucky.
I hadn’t either until a knock at my door on a January evening seven years ago. A process server pushed an envelope into my hand. “You are being sued,” a notice at the top of the document proclaimed. I felt my pulse quicken.
SLAPP lawsuits — which most often take the form of a defamation suit — are surprisingly common. They are meant to burden individuals with the cost of a legal defense until they stop their criticism. They affect travelers disproportionately, in large part because travelers’ opinions have the power to raise the fortunes of a hotel or restaurant — or to put them out of business.
Until the bill passes, legal experts say you need to be careful.
You could be faced with a SLAPP suit “even if you post an honest review,” warns Nicole Williams, an attorney in the Dallas office of Thompson & Knight, which represented the Duchouquettes. If a business files a SLAPP suit against you, or even if you receive a demand letter, she advises contacting a lawyer and the review platform for help.