WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - District of Columbia Attorney General Irving Nathan is intervening in a lawsuit filed against former Clinton adviser Lanny Davis in order to defend the validity of an anti-SLAPP statute.
Davis, who is accused by 3M of conspiring to coerce the company into paying tens of millions of dollars in a United Kingdom breach of contract case, filed an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion in the case last month.
SLAPP suits are those intended to silence critics by burdening them with costly litigation until the criticism stops.
Just recently 3M challenged the validity of the D.C. anti-SLAPP statute.
In August, 3M filed suit against Davis in federal court in Washington. Davis's alleged coercion included a public relations campaign that 3M claims "featured a barrage of disparaging and defamatory statements." The allegations stem from a breach of contract lawsuit Davis's clients filed in London against 3M Company in late 2008.
3M asked the court on Nov. 1 to strike Davis's anti-SLAPP motion. It also requested the court permit it to conduct discovery so it can respond to Davis's assertion that 3M is not likely to succeed on the merits of its claims.
"It is not surprising that the District of Columbia Attorney General is stepping into the 3M lawsuit to defend the District's anti-SLAPP law," said Raymond G. Mullady, Jr. lead counsel for Davis. "3M's attack on the free speech law, if successful, would ensure the return of meritless and costly lawsuits by plaintiffs like 3M who want to intimidate and suppress public discussion about matters of public interest."
Nathan is not taking a position on the validity of the lawsuit, he said. He indicated that he has been drawn into the case because 3M has questioned the legitimacy of the statute and therefore he needs to defend it.
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins has approved the AG's intervention and has asked for a brief from Nathan by Nov. 29.
Wilkins has also asked the plaintiff to respond by Dec. 15.