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This is the story of “Dainties vs. Goliath:” Two college graduates who are PTA, piano-teaching, “milk and cookie moms” vs. powerful, influential, Goliath land developers. The “Dainties” were SLAPPed by the high-flying developers when they tried to preserve the riverbottoms property the “Goliaths” wanted to develop. The developers are claiming nearly $2 million in damages even though they won approval for their mammoth development (see land photos within this website) and subsequently sold their project for $19 Million.

The developer offered to drop the lawsuit if the “PTA moms” kept their mouths shut and not attend city council meetings for three years. This was unacceptable to them and they have been forced to spend money to defend their right to “speak out”. They’ve exhausted their personal savings, taken out 2nd mortgages on their homes, and have gone without essential needs to fight for the right of public dissent and to get involved in their communities.

Nine years later, these litigious developers are still punishing the desperate housewives for speaking out and using them as “whipping moms” for the other communities they’ve since sued.

In a recent victory, the Utah Supreme Court recently ruled that the “PTA moms” alleged facts which the court found would support a stated claim against the developer for violation of the SLAPP act, or Utah’s new “Citizen Participation in Government Act.”

Not SLAPPED around: The debt that the people of Utah owe to activists Janalee Tobias and Judy Feld is even greater than the debt those two owe their lawyers. The two refused to knuckle under to Anderson Development and its abusive SLAPP -- strategic lawsuit against public participation. Some eight years after the developers of some Jordan River bottomland filed a $1.7 million lawsuit against Tobias and Feld for daring to speak out against what they considered an environmentally unsound project, the case has been settled with the developer paying the free-speaking American citizens $50,000 toward their $400,000 in legal bills. In the meantime, legislative and judicial action cracked down on such horrible abuses of the courts, making it much harder for the next deep-pocketed developer to so abuse the system. 

(Salt Lake Tribune, Jan 18 2006)

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