A few months ago I pointed out that Andrew Wakefield had sued Brian Deer and the British Medical Journal for defamation. Mr. Wakefield, you might recall, is a widely discredited advocate for the position that vaccines cause autism, a position cherished by people who believe that the scientific method involves believing things very fervently.
In my post I predicted that Wakefield's suit would be an excellent opportunity to test-drive Texas' aggressive new anti-SLAPP statute. As predicted, Mr. Deer and the BMJ have filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which you can read in full here at Mr. Deer's web site.
A fair evaluation of the motion will take a slow and careful reading, which I will eventually undertake. For now, three points: (1) upon a quick read, it appears very strong, (2) note that Mr. Deer and the BMJ "specially appear" to file the motion, preserving their challenge to the Texas court's personal jurisdiction over them (which, hopefully, the Texas court will permit), and (3) if the court finds that the defendants have established that Wakefield's suit is premised on their exercise of protected speech (which the court almost certainly will), then the burden shifts to Wakefield to come forward with admissible evidence sufficient to prove that he can possibly prevail on his claims even in light of the relevant privileges and constitutional protections. In other words, Wakefield will be forced to come forward with actual evidence.
This is one to watch.
Thanks to Mr. Deer for the note referring me to his website and the motion.
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