Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Follow up: $900k SLAPP verdict against Sand Livestock Systems for attempting to stifle Furnas County hog farm protest The Kansas City Star Kansas City attorney Charlie Speer of the Speer Law Firm wins SLAPP suit with a $900,000 verdict for two farmers and their attorney in an anti-SLAPP action.

The farmers and the attorney had been sued for defamation by Furnas County Farms, a hog producer that wanted to put in a 44,000-swine facility nearby, after they wrote a letter critical of the company to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. Among other things, Furnas alleged that the three had falsely claimed the hog producer liquefied the remains of dead pigs and dumped them in lagoons. The three fought back, countersuing under a Nebraska law that authorizes such suits when citizens face a SLAPP.Speer, who tried the case with Savannah, Ga., attorney Richard Middleton, said it was the first verdict of its kind in Nebraska history and may well be one of the biggest anti-SLAPP verdicts anywhere. The jury also awarded attorneys’ fees, which will be determined later.“In our view, this was a very important First Amendment case which should have national implications,” Speer said.

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