Good Law | Bad Law #84 – When a whistleblower SLAPPs back at intimidation w/ Brenda Skylstad

Aaron Freiwald, Managing Partner of Freiwald Law and host of the weekly podcast series Good Law | Bad Law, is joined by Brenda Skylstad to discuss her role in creating important anti-SLAPP legislation.

 

SLAPP stands for: Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. SLAPPs are used as a measure to silence, and harass critics. By forcing them to spend time and money on a legal defense, SLAPP filers hope that these critics will abandon their charge or opposition even though these lawsuits are baseless. SLAPP filers don’t go to court to seek justice. Rather, SLAPPS are intended to intimidate those who disagree by draining their financial resources.

 

Back in 1987 when Brenda and her then husband tried to refinance their home they learned the real-state company that had sold the home failed to pay the excise, or transfer, tax. When she began looking into the situation more she learned she was not the only one. The company had failed to pay the excise tax on over 300 homes in the development that Brenda lived in.

 

When Brenda confronted the company about their wrongdoings they offered to pay her excise tax in exchange for her silence. Brenda knew if she stayed silent this company would continue to wrong their customers and never pay the taxes they owed. She declined the offer.

 

The company went on to sue her for $1.2 million dollars for slander.

 

In exchange for five and a half years of her life, her marriage, and her home Brenda not only successfully defended her case, she also won her counter-suit against the real-estate giant. But her most important victory came before the case ended.

 

On May 5th, 1989, in Gov. Booth Gardner’s office in Seattle Washington the Brenda Hill Whistle-Blower protection law was signed. The measure provided citizen whistle-blowers immunity and legal help when they are sued for speaking out against a company.

 

To learn more about Anti-SLAPP laws in America visit: https://anti-slapp.org/

 

 

Host: Aaron Freiwald

Guest: Brenda Skylstad