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Court Rejects Blogger’s Anti-SLAPP Defense

(CN) - A Minnesota woman's allegedly defamatory comments on her blog are not protected by anti-SLAPP law, because they were personal and didn't concern government action, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled.

Plaintiffs Peter Freeman and James D'Angelo worked on relocating Nexus, a juvenile sex-offender rehabilitation center, to a larger facility.

Janette Swift led a campaign to stop the relocation, and her comments on a blog triggered Freeman and D'Angelo's lawsuit.

Swift wrote that D'Angelo, the former CEO of Nexus, had made "death threats," and she commented on his character and conduct after an erroneous report that he had committed suicide.

She also sent an email to Freeman's boss, asking for his help in controlling Freeman's conduct. Freeman served as a volunteer member of Nexus' board of directors.

When she lost in the trial court, Swift argued that she was immune from suit under anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law.

The appellate court's Judge Terri Stoneburner rejected her appeal, saying Swift's speech did not constitute public participation.

"Although Swift's challenged statements ... were made during the time of her advocacy in the (Nexus) controversy, none of the statements is integral to any part of the controversy," Stoneburner wrote, denying Swift's motion to dismiss the defamation action.

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