Manatt's Benjamin Shatz, co-chair of the firm's Appellate practice, was quoted by California Lawyer on the history of California's anti-SLAPP law and how it is being used today.
As reported by California Lawyer, the anti-SLAPP measure was inspired in 1987 by a man who challenged a proposal to build a waste incinerator in his community. He rallied opponents who sued, but he was then hit personally with a cross-complaint alleging he interfered with the defendant's prospective economic advantage. The bill was initially intended to protect free speech in a more robust way and was commonly used by media organizations, citizens' rights groups and public interest organizations beset by causes of action such as defamation, public nuisance and others.
The Legislature then expanded anti-SLAPP protections by adding language that the law "shall be construed broadly." Shatz said, "The statute was not used that much initially, and then blossomed into a really powerful tool. If a litigator in California is not familiar with anti-SLAPP, you're not representing your client properly."
He added that anti-SLAPP defense motions have "become quite the norm."