It was another busy year of legal intimidation, aggressive lawsuits, and bully tactics! Disgruntled corporations and those in power sure didn’t make our second Annual SLAPP Awards easy! A SLAPP suit is a lawsuit aimed at silencing critics. Corporations and powerful people use this abusive tactic to intimidate activists and journalists with expensive, lengthy, and stressful litigation.
So, without further ado…
The Corporate Bully of the Year Award
Awarded to the corporation that has engaged in the most aggressive efforts to harass and intimidate critics.
Chevron wins this award for the second time. In 2019 Chevron elevated its efforts to escape responsibility for dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The company used a SLAPP win to rewrite history denying ANY evidence of contamination and their continued efforts to silence the opposing lawyer, Steven Donziger included requesting the court force him to turn over his email password, computer and phone. Donziger refused, and despite lawfully appealing the order he has been held in pre-trial criminal contempt for over nine months.
Most Outrageous SLAPP Award
Awarded to the most shocking legal bullying attempt.
The Lawfare Project uses the court system to stifle constitutionally protected free speech related to Israel and Palestine worldwide by operating as an attack-dog for the far right, deploying frivolous lawsuits and smear campaigns against any critics of Israel. Professors at Kingsborough Community College in New York City have been targeted by the Lawfare Project for organizing progressive faculty on campus (read more about the professors at Kingsborough College here).
Belly Flop Award
Awarded to the most ridiculous SLAPP lawsuit of the year.
Devin had a busy year.
Devin Nunes is an Republican congressman and former dairy farmer from California. He was Chair of the House Intelligence Committee from 2015 to 2019 and a member of President Trump’s transition team. Rep. Nunes was so angered by a story in his hometown newspaper, the Fresno Bee, claiming that investors in a winery he partly owns partied with cocaine and prostitutes that he decided to sue them. In Virginia. For $150 million. But he didn’t stop there!
The month before, he filed a defamation lawsuit against Twitter, Liz Mair, Mair Strategies LLC, and the Twitter accounts, “Devin Nunes’s Mom” (@DevinNunesMom) and “Devin Nunes’s Cow” (@DevinCow), seeking $250 million in damages (this case was just dismissed). A few months later, Nunes sued political journalist Ryan Lizza and Hearst Magazines, the publisher of Esquire, alleging that a 2018 Esquire story had damaged his reputation. Lizza wrote that Nunes’s family had “secretly” moved its dairy operation from California to Iowa in 2007. The same month, Nunes sued the liberal nonprofit Campaign for Accountability (CfA) and the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The latter was hired to dig up dirt on Trump at the behest of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. In December, Nunes sued CNN for alleged defamation. The complaint stated, “CNN is the mother of fake news. It is the least trusted name. CNN is eroding the fabric of America, proselytizing, sowing distrust and disharmony.”
You can’t sue people just because you don’t like what they have to say, Devin.
The First Annual SLAPP Awards 2018
Check out previous SLAPPies winners.