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When Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder sued Washington City Paper‘s parent companies in February in New York courts over “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder,” we said the suit had no merit. When Snyder dropped the New York case and moved it to D.C. courts in April, suing City Paper and staff writer Dave McKenna, we said it still had no merit.
Today, we’re asking a judge to agree with us.
Our lawyers just filed papers under the District’s anti-SLAPP law, which the D.C. Council passed in December and which took effect in early April. Among other purposes, the law is designed to protect news organizations against lawsuits intended to intimidate them out of writing about public figures. The law requires the case to be dismissed unless Snyder can prove that he is “likely to succeed” on the merits of his complaint.
As our court filing puts it:
Not only has [Snyder] publicly acknowledged the improper purposes that in fact undergird this litigation, but his ever-shifting explication of why the Commentary is allegedly actionable in defamation further reveals his lawsuit for what it is—a pretext for punishing and silencing his critics. As demonstrated in the materials accompanying this motion, Mr. Snyder has moved from complaining publicly about statements that, on inspection, appear nowhere in the Commentary; to suing over artwork that any first-year law student knows is not the proper basis for a defamation action; to his current Complaint, which wrenches out of context substantially accurate accounts of his prior conduct, themselves drawn from the voluminous archives of public records and previously published press accounts that document his public life, and ascribes to them allegedly defamatory meanings that no reasonable reader would credit. Simply put, Mr. Snyder cannot demonstrate that it is even arguable he can succeed on the merits of his current claims, much less that he is, as the Anti-SLAPP Act requires, likely to do so.
Read the motion, and a memorandum of law supporting it, below. If you’re having trouble viewing the files on our site, view them here.
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An affidavit supporting the motion is here:
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And the 204 exhibits we filed with the court are here, in four parts:
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For information on City Paper‘s legal defense fund, click here.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery