Note: This page covers information specific to Michigan. For general information concerning Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), see the overview section of this guide.
On August 19, 2010, the Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill No. 5036 which provides that if a defendant in a lawsuit makes a motion to dismiss, the court shall dismiss the case if either of the following applies:
a. The action was based on the defendant's exercise of constitutionally protected right to petition the government and the communication was aimed at achieving some governmental or electoral action, result, or outcome, or
b. The action is based on the defendant's exercise of the constitutional right to free speech.
The plaintiff can avoid dismissal of the complaint if they can make a prima facie case that the purpose of the lawsuit is not to harass or intimidate or interfere with free speech and one or both of the following:
a. The defendant made a statement that was false with reckless disregard for the truth or knowing it was false, or
b. The defendant revealed something in the communication that they were prohibited by law from revealing.
As of February 2011, it does not appear that the state senate had passed the bill or that it has otherwise become law in Michigan. If you have information about the legislation, please contact us. You can find general information in the section on Responding to Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs). If you receive a SLAPP, you should immediately get legal assistance. You also may want to refer to the section on Responding to Lawsuits for more information.
If you succeed in fending off a SLAPP-type lawsuit in Michigan,you may be able to bring a claim of malicious prosecution against the original plaintiff. While Michigan does not explicitly recognize a "SLAPPback" claim, the elements of a malicious prosecution claim are similar. You should consult an attorney to see whether such a claim may be viable in your case.