Over three years ago, to redress their grievances in having been maliciously prosecuted as revenge for their whistleblowing activities, Lawrence and Sinuon Leiendecker (Leiendeckers) sued Asian Women United of Minnesota (AWUM), its board of directors (“BODs”) and a number of their constituents for various claims including malicious prosecution. The Leiendeckers survived rule 12 motions to dismiss with the District Court ruling in October 2012 that: “Plaintiffs have alleged facts that would clearly and convincingly show that Defendants’ conduct constituted a tort, i.e. malicious prosecution, and so are not entitled to immunity under Minn. Stat. § 554.03 at this stage of the proceedings.” (Dist. Ct. Oct. 1 2012 Order/Mem. at 13-14.)
Significantly, the Court found that the Leiendeckers: (1) had sufficiently alleged facts that any of the probable cause determinations that may have been made by courts in the underlying actions “were not ‘proper’ because they were based upon knowingly misleading statements made by Defendants” (id. at 15) and, (2) had “clearly alleged that the Conversion Case and the Malpractice Case were subjectively motivated by bad faith”, (id.). Considering that they clearly and convincingly pled factual circumstances showing that Defendants’ conduct constituted intentional torts, this would have been more than sufficient under normal circumstances for the Leiendeckers to proceed in seeking redress from the Court.
However, the Leiendeckers’ case is not being litigated under normal circumstances. Instead, because the Leiendeckers’ well-pleaded claims against Defendants allege public participation abuses, the Leiendeckers are being deprived of having their grievances developed through the normal civil litigation process afforded to all other civil litigants. This is what anti-SLAPP statutes do to honest litigants seeking redress of their grievances – it summarily punishes them prior to a determination of any wrongdoing; and even when they otherwise survive motions to dismiss under the established rules.
The this past August, the Leiendeckers moved the District Court to declare that Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP statute section 554.02 is unconstitutional, both facially and as applied because it: (1) is a content-based restriction of First Amendment activity; (2) is an unconstitutional prior restraint; (3) is not narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest; (4) is facially overbroad; (5) violates equal protection rights; (6) violates the jury-trial right; and (7) violates separation of powers. The Leiendekcers’ pray that the unconstitutional citadel of the Minnesota anti-SLAPP law falls so that they may be treated just like everyone else that comes before the courts in this state seeking redress of their grievances.
If you are interested, please read the brief submitted to the court regarding this case.