Nicole Solas Anti-SLAPP Hearing Against Teachers Union – Judge Doubts NEA-RI Ever Had Claim To Prevent Records Release But Reserves Decision
Judge states it’s pretty clear to her union “not entitled to relief” under public records law to prevent release of records sought by Solas from school district, but reserved decision what that means for dismissing the case against Solas and her claim for anti-SLAPP damages
A hearing on a motion for summary judgment was held in Rhode Island Superior Court before Judge Linda Rekas Sloan.
By way of background, the National Education Association’s Rhode Island chapter (NEA-RI) sued Solas, her husband, and the South Kingstown School District to prevent the district from turning over records, including regarding Critical Race and Gender teaching, requested by Solas under the Rhode Island public records law (APRA). NEA-RI also sought an emergency injunction. That request was withdrawn because it lacked merit, as NEA-RI has no “standing” under the APRA, but the case continued because Solas and her husband invoked the RI “anti-SLAPP” statute which provides expedited procedures for dismissal.
Today’s hearing was on Solas’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the case against them, and moving on the anti-SLAPP claim, meaning that the court immediately enter judgment in her favor. All the court needs to do is find that there are material fact issues that are in dispute in order to deny the motion.
Here are links to prior posts with pleadings and background:
- Teachers Union Sues Mom Nicole Solas To Prevent School District From Releasing Critical Race Teaching Records
- RI Teachers Union Seeks Emergency Injunction Preventing Release of CRT Records To Mom Nicole Solas (Update)
- Unions May Have Major Legal Problem In Lawsuit Against RI Mom Nicole Solas Over Public Records Of Critical Race Teaching
- Teachers Unions Exposed To Anti-SLAPP Punitive Claim For Suing Mom Nicole Solas Over Critical Race Records
- Court Filing: RI Mother Nicole Solas Demands “Compensatory and Punitive Damages” Against Teachers Unions Under Anti-SLAPP Statute
- UPDATE: Teachers Union v. RI Mom Nicole Solas – Motion for TRO Withdrawn By Union During Court Hearing
- LOL NEA Teachers Union Declares Victory Over Mom Nicole Solas Despite Court Humiliation
- RI Teachers Union Opposing Mom Nicole Solas anti-SLAPP Suit: We didn’t WANT To Sue Her, We Had To Do It
You can read Solas’ Reply in support of the motion here.
Here’s the latest development: RI Teachers Union Is Trying To Get Me Kicked Off Twitter, After Suing Me For Seeking CRT Records
The hearing was livestreamed but not recorded and recording was prohibited. About 120 people were watching online.
My notes below are not a verbatim transcript, or even an attempt at a transcript. I can’t type that fast. If something is in quotation marks, it’s a direct quote, otherwise it’s more a paraphrase of the court’s ruling and questioning as expressed during the hearing, and also is not comprehensive.
The Judge focused on fact that Solas was named only because she was a necessary party under the declaratory relief statute. Judge says “Plaintiff’s not entitled to relief under APRA” to stop release of documents.
“It’s clear to me” that they are not looking to hold Solas liable. “Not intended to harass them at all” intended to seek relief from school defendant. Solas attorney says appropriate relief is to grant summary judgment in favor of Solas.
Judge notes the district is not moving for summary judgment. So can’t resolve entire case against all parties.
Judge posed hypothetical of possible release of medical records of teachers, can the teachers have standing to prevent it? Solas points to prior case law that no standing under APRA, might be independent medical privacy basis, but not under APRA.
NEA-RI attorney stressed that the union no longer was seeking injunctive relief, only a declaration as to the meaning of the statute. Court had pointed out previously that they are seeking prohibition of release of records under APRA.
Judge made distinction between not having “standing” and having standing but no claim, and raised question of whether that made a difference here.
The court then moved onto that anti-SLAPP portion of the case. Union attorney says Solas didn’t present evidence of bad faith or motive of harassment. Point out that Solas didn’t file an affidavit, or other evidence, so can’t invoke summary judgment. (My note – Solas relied on pleadings and admissions of NEA-RI for her motion, so not true no evidence presented.) Says Solas presented no evidence on “why” NEA-RI brought the suit.
Judge pointed out that the “knowledge” of why the suit was brought was “in the plaintiff’s head,” so what type of evidence would someone like Solas have? Union attorney said they would need to take discovery and present evidence to get summary judgment. Asks that motion be denied and case proceed.
Judge to Sola attorney: If I grant motion on standing, is Solas not “prevailing party” as union argued. Solas attorney cites statutory provision about prevailing party including someone who wins on the merits, which is what summary judgment does. Attorney’s fees mandatory under statute.
Solas attorney, not enought that union now wants to drop Solas from the case, they never should have brought the case and would have to abandon their APRA rights.
Judge reserved decision, will call parties back for oral decision after she reviews more material, before winter court break (prior to December 20).
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