A SLAPP Silences Stay-at-Home Dad in Magnolia

Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough attracts attention for his financial tip service by attacking what he calls “Old Wall Street” on Twitter, ridiculing analysts and belittling their track records.

So what does McCullough do when a stay-at-home dad in Magnolia, Texas, challenges him? Sue for defamation to silence him, of course.

Hedgeye’s lawsuit has all the marks of what attorneys call a SLAPP, a strategic lawsuit against public participation. A SLAPP’s goal is not to win in court – the suits are often unconstitutional – but instead to run up the defendant’s legal bill until he or she can’t take it anymore and promises to never speak up again.

Companies use SLAPPs so often that the Texas Legislature rightfully outlawed them in 2011. But that didn’t stop Hedgeye’s attorneys from filing one in Connecticut, where no such prohibition exists.

What they probably didn’t expect was that Carmine Pirone, a Penn State journalism major, doesn’t like bullies and fought back, at least for a while.

"Essentially Hedgeye gets what they want, which is for him to shut up," attorney Trey Branham said. "That right there shows you the value of anti-SLAPP statutes."
June 10, 2014
Houston Chronicle