Last week Justice Richard Lococo ordered Dylan Powell, co-founder of Marineland Animal Defense (MAD), to pay Marineland’s court costs related to legal action the theme park brought against Powell in December. The legal action succeeded in limiting MAD’s protest activities, as Lococo imposed new restrictions on MAD in August. Lococo’s August 9 order effectively criminalized leafleting at the Marineland entrance and exit, prevented activists from using megaphones on site, and prohibited signs that included the words “abuse,” “torture,” “criminal,” “animal abuse,” or “arrest John Holer” – the owner of Marineland.
Legal action of this kind, brought by a corporation against an activist or group opposing the corporation, is referred to as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). In this case, Marineland had requested that Lococo order Powell to pay more than $24,000 in fees or costs. In deciding on $10,000 instead, Lococo considered Powell’s lack of wealth.
Powell says he doesn’t have $10,000, so Marineland’s request for court costs may be a pyrrhic victory for the notorious theme park.