Intimidation Tactics

Definition of a SLAPP Suit: SLAPP is an acronym for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” This refers to lawsuits filed without merit against an activist or group to chill their actions and draw effort away from their cause by forcing them to defend themselves against the suit. The suits are filed to retaliate against critics (claiming libel or slander or restraint of business for example) or to intimidate the person(s) into silence. Slapp-backs are lawsuits filed by a defendant against the person(s) who filed the original SLAPP suit. Many states, including California, have passed anti-slapp statutes providing for speedy hearings and the possibility of recovering legal fees and punitive damages. Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. §425.16.

In late 2006 the local citizen group Cherry Valley Acres and Neighbors (CVAN), which had been voicing concern over the operation of the Beaumont Wastewater Treatment Plant and Urban Logic’s contract to operate the plant, received a letter from Urban Logic which threatened legal action against CVAN if they continued to question and criticize Urban Logic.

The letter characterized the questioning by members of the public as “harassment” and claimed that Urban Logic may incur monetary damages as a result of the public scrutiny. In the letter Urban Logic threatens CVAN members by saying, “Please rest assured that we will take any and all necessary actions to hold such individuals and groups personally responsible, including seeking compensation for monetary damages if these efforts are not curtailed immediately.”

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, Urban Logic served Beaumont Citizens for Responsible Growth with a lawsuit which sounds almost identical to the complaints contained in the letter to CVAN.

SLAPP Suit – Sequence of Events:

1. Urban Logic sends threatening letter to Citizens Group. Download PDF

2. Urban Logic sues Citizens Group in an attempt to silence critics Serves the lawsuit on Beaumont citizens on Thanksgiving Day. Download PDF

3. Citizens Group files a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Download PDF

4. Citizens Group prevails in Court; Urban Logic ordered to pay attorney fees and court costs. Download PDF

5. Urban Logic continues their attempt to silence critics by filing an appeal.

6. Urban Logic attempts to delay final judgment against them until after the November 2012 election by dragging out the court process and requesting extensions.

7. A California Appellate Court last week dismissed once and for all the appeal of City of Beaumont consulting firm Urban Logic Consultants (ULC) in favor of Beaumont Citizens for Responsible Growth(BCRG). Read more here or Download PDF.