SB 1219
Establishes the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act, which provides procedures for dismissal of causes of action based on public expression
Sponsor:
LR Number:
5861S.01I
Last Action:
4/19/2022 - Voted Do Pass S Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
Journal Page:
Title:
Calendar Position:
Effective Date:
August 28, 2022

Current Bill Summary

SB 1219 - This act establishes the "Uniform Public Expression Protection Act". Currently, any action against a person for conduct or speech undertaken or made in connection with a public hearing or meeting in a quasi-judicial proceeding before a tribunal or decision-making body of the state or a political subdivision thereof is subject to a special motion to dismiss, a motion for judgment on the pleadings, or motion for summary judgment and any such motion shall be considered by the court on a priority or expedited basis. This act repeals the provision and provides procedures for dismissal of causes of action asserted in a civil action based on a person's:

(1) Communication in a legislative, executive, judicial, administrative, or other governmental proceeding;

(2) Communication on an issue under consideration or review in a legislative, executive, judicial, administrative, or other governmental proceeding; or

(3) Exercise of the right of freedom of speech or of the press, the right to assemble or petition, or the right of association, guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the Missouri Constitution, on a matter of public concern.

However, this act shall not apply to a cause of action asserted:

(1) Against a governmental unit, as described in the act, or an employee or agent of a governmental unit acting in an official capacity;

(2) By a governmental unit or an employee or agent of a governmental unit acting in an official capacity to enforce a law to protect against an imminent threat to public health or safety; or

(3) Against a person primarily engaged in the business of selling or leasing goods or services if the cause of action arises out of a communication related to the sale or lease of such goods or services.

No later than 60 days after a party is served with a complaint, cross-claim, counterclaim, third-party claim, or other pleading that asserts a cause of action covered by this act, or at a later time upon a showing of good cause, a party may file a special motion to dismiss. The court shall hear and rule on such motion no later than 60 days after the filing of the motion, unless the court orders a later hearing to allow for limited discovery or upon good cause. However, this act provides that the court shall hear and rule on the motion for dismissal no later than 60 days after the order allowing for discovery.

This act provides that all other proceedings between the moving party and the responding party in the action, including discovery and any pending hearings or motions, shall be stayed upon the filing of the special motion to dismiss. Additionally, this act provides that the court may stay, upon motion by the moving party, a hearing or motion involving another party or discovery by another party if a ruling on such hearing or motion or discovery relates to a legal or factual issue material to the special motion to dismiss.

Any stay pursuant to this act shall remain in effect until the entry of an order ruling on the special motion to dismiss and the expiration of the time to appeal the order. A moving party may appeal an order denying the special motion to dismiss in whole or in part within 21 days of such order. If a party appeals an order ruling on a special motion to dismiss, this act provides that all proceedings between all parties be stayed until the conclusion of the appeal.

The court may allow discovery if a party shows that specific information is necessary to establish whether a party has satisfied or failed to satisfy the requirements of this act and such information is not reasonably available without discovery. Additionally, a motion for costs and expenses, voluntarily dismissal, or a motion to sever shall not be stayed. During a stay, the court upon good cause may hear and rule on any motions unrelated to the special motion to dismiss and any motions seeking a special or preliminary injunction to protect against an imminent threat to public health or safety.

In ruling on a special motion to dismiss, this act provides that the court shall consider the parties' pleadings, the motion, any replies and responses to the motion, and any evidence that could be considered in a ruling on a motion for summary judgment. The court shall dismiss the cause of action with prejudice if:

(1) The moving party has established that the cause of action is covered by this act;

(2) The responding party has failed to establish that this act does not apply to the cause of action; and

(3) Either the responding party failed to establish a prima facie case as to each essential element of the cause of action, or the moving party has established that the responding party failed to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted or that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

A voluntary dismissal without prejudice of a cause of action that is subject to a special motion to dismiss pursuant to this act shall not affect the moving party's right to obtain a ruling on the motion and seek costs, reasonable attorneys' fees, and reasonable litigation expenses. Additionally, if the moving party prevails on the motion, this act provides that such costs, fees, and expenses shall be awarded to the moving party. A voluntary dismissal with prejudice of a cause of action that is subject to a special motion to dismiss establishes that the moving party prevailed on the motion. The responding party shall be entitled to such costs, fees, and expenses if the responding party prevails on the motion and the court finds that the motion was frivolous or filed solely with the intent to delay the proceeding.

Finally, this act applies to causes of action filed or asserted on or after August 28, 2022.

This act is similar to HCS/SS#2/SCS/SB 968 (2022), HB 2624 (2022), and HB 1151 (2021).

KATIE O'BRIEN

Amendments

No Amendments Found.