A person who communicates a complaint or information to any branch or agency of federal, state, or local government, or to any self-regulatory organization that regulates persons involved in the securities or futures business and that has been delegated authority by a federal, state, or local government agency and is subject to oversight by the delegating agency, is immune from civil liability for claims based upon the communication to the agency or organization regarding any matter reasonably of concern to that agency or organization. A person prevailing upon the defense provided for in this section is entitled to recover expenses and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in establishing the defense and in addition shall receive statutory damages of ten thousand dollars. Statutory damages may be denied if the court finds that the complaint or information was communicated in bad faith.
[2002 c 232 § 2; 1999 c 54 § 1; 1989 c 234 § 2.]
Intent—2002 c 232: "Strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPP suits, involve communications made to influence a government action or outcome which results in a civil complaint or counterclaim filed against individuals or organizations on a substantive issue of some public interest or social significance. SLAPP suits are designed to intimidate the exercise of First Amendment rights and rights under Article I, section 5 of the Washington state Constitution.
Although Washington state adopted the first modern anti-SLAPP law in 1989, that law has, in practice, failed to set forth clear rules for early dismissal review. Since that time, the United States supreme court has made it clear that, as long as the petitioning is aimed at procuring favorable government action, result, product, or outcome, it is protected and the case should be dismissed. Chapter 232, Laws of 2002 amends Washington law to bring it in line with these court decisions which recognizes that the United States Constitution protects advocacy to government, regardless of content or motive, so long as it is designed to have some effect on government decision making." [2002 c 232 § 1.]