Amended Anti-SLAPP Law Should Protect Social Media Reviewer in N.Y.
Participated in an amicus brief (with the Reporters Committee and other amici) filed with the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department in VIP Pet Grooming Studio, Inc. v. Sproule. Robert Sproule wrote one-star Yelp and Google reviews of VIP, alleging the studio was responsible for his dog’s death. VIP sued Sproule and his wife for defamation. Eight days later, on Nov. 10, 2020, New York’s amended anti-SLAPP law took effect, providing new protections for speech on issues of public interest. The Sproules moved to dismiss the case under that law. But the trial court said the anti-SLAPP law did not apply because the Sproules’ speech did not concern an issue of public interest. The amicus brief urges the appellate court to reverse the decision below and hold that (1) the anti-SLAPP amendments apply retroactively; and (2) they protect the Sproules’ speech about an issue of public interest.