Fri. Jun 7th, 2024

Anti-SLAPP Law in California

1st Amendment Freedom of Press & Speech

What is Anti-SLAPP?

Short for strategic lawsuits against public participation, SLAPPs have become an all-too-common tool for intimidating and silencing criticism through expensive, baseless legal proceedings.

Anti-SLAPP laws are meant to provide a remedy to SLAPP suits. Anti-SLAPP laws are intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate people who are exercising their First Amendment rights. In terms of reporting, news organizations and individual journalists can use anti-SLAPP statutes to protect themselves from the financial threat of a groundless defamation case brought by a subject of an enterprise or investigative story.

Under most anti-SLAPP statutes, the person sued makes a motion to strike the case because it involves speech on a matter of public concern. The plaintiff then has the burden of showing a probability that they will prevail in the suit — meaning they must show that they have evidence that could result in a favorable verdict. If the plaintiff cannot meet this burden and the suit is dismissed through anti-SLAPP proceedings, many statutes allow defendants to collect attorney’s fees from the plaintiff.

Resources

Anti-SLAPP Stories

State-by-State Resources

View the Reporters Committee’s Anti-SLAPP Legal Guide.

Recent Anti-SLAPP Updates

2019-06-03: Colorado became 31st state with anti-SLAPP protections

2019-06-02: Texas modified its existing anti-SLAPP law

2019-04-23: The Tennessee legislature amended an anti-SLAPP statute that significantly strengthens the state’s anti-SLAPP protections. Effective July 1, 2019, the new Tennessee Public Participation Act allows defendants to file a motion to dismiss a SLAPP suit before the costly discovery process begins, appeal the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion, and recover attorney’s fees if a court rules in their favor. The new law is largely based on Texas’ anti-SLAPP statute. cited https://www.rcfp.org/resources/anti-slapp-laws/

 


learn more about Anti-SLAPP:

California Supreme Court Confirms that the “anti-SLAPP” Statute Applies to Claims of Discrimination and Retaliation 

Malicious Prosecution Actions Arising Out Of Family Law Proceedings: Proceed Carefully


California has an excellent anti-SLAPP law. It was enacted in 2009.

Frankly, the procedural requirements of section 425.16, its interaction with other statutes such as Civil Code 47 (the statute defining what is privileged speech), and the latest definition of “public interest,” which changes regularly, is often far too challenging for a trial court judge to decipher in the limited time he or she has to consider an anti-SLAPP motion.

A bad decision by the judge can be devastating to the defendant or plaintiff. If the special motion to strike is denied when it should have been granted, then the defendant remains hostage to the action.  In an effort to minimize this possibility, the statute provides that the order denying the motion is immediately appealable, but that is costly and time-consuming, which is what the anti-SLAPP statute was trying to prevent in the first place. Conversely, improperly (or properly) granting an anti-SLAPP motion will entitle the defendant to a mandatory award of reasonable attorney fees. This has turned into a significant problem because there are many unethical attorneys who submit inflated fee applications following a successful anti-SLAPP motion. I am frequently retained to testify as an expert to challenge these inflated bills, and thus far I have always been successful in having them reduced, but without such testimony far too many judges are rubber-stamping attorney fee motions, which I have seen exceed $400,000. And there are no “take-backs” when it comes to SLAPP suits. Once an anti-SLAPP motion has been filed, a plaintiff cannot escape this mandatory fee award by amending or even dismissing his complaint.

Any of the following types of actions (and perhaps more because the law is expanding) can be a SLAPP suit:

  • Defamation
  • Malicious Prosecution or Abuse of Process
  • Nuisance
  • Invasion of Privacy
  • Conspiracy
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
  • Interference with Contract or Economic Advantage

As you can see, many actions can result in an anti-SLAPP motion, and such a motion can be a costly and inequitable minefield if the judge fails to fully understand the law. If you are going to enter that minefield, you need an attorney who is a recognized expert in this field. You need Morris & Stone, attorneys whose primary area of practice is defamation (slander and libel) and the accompanying SLAPP laws.

1In state courts, claims may not be amended if an anti-SLAPP motion is pending or has been granted.  In federal courts, leave to amend may be granted.

Statements before a government body or official proceeding; or in connection with issue under consideration by government body; or in a place open to the public or public forum in connection with issue of public interest; or any other conduct in furtherance of petition/free speech in connection with issue of public interest, are protected.

CIV. PROC. CODE § 425.17.

Exempts from the anti-SLAPP law public interest litigation and claims arising from commercial speech.

CIV. PROC. CODE §425.18

SLAPPbacks:  Prohibits the use of certain provisions of the anti-SLAPP law against a SLAPPback brought in the form of a malicious prosecution claim.

The California Anti-Libel Tourism Act

SB 320 passed both chambers of the CA legislature and was approved by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on 10/11/09.  The bill prohibits recognition of foreign defamation judgments if a California court determines that the defamation law applied by a foreign court does not provide at least as much protection for freedom of speech and the press as provided by both the United States and California Constitutions. source


California’s Anti-SLAPP Law and Related State and Federal Statutes

CA Statutes

The California anti-SLAPP law was enacted by the state Legislature almost twenty years ago to protect the petition and free speech rights of all Californians. Amendments have been made since that time to improve the law and provide stronger protection from meritless lawsuits to anyone who is SLAPPed in California.

Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16

California’s anti-SLAPP statute provides for a special motion to strike a complaint where the complaint arises from activity exercising the rights of petition and free speech. The statute was first enacted in 1992.

Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17

This statute was enacted to correct abuse of the anti-SLAPP statute (CCP § 425.16). It prohibits anti-SLAPP motions in response to (1) public interest litigation when certain conditions are met, and (2) certain actions against a business that arise from commercial statements or conduct of the business.

Code of Civil Procedure section 425.18

This statute was enacted primarily to facilitate the recovery by SLAPP victims of their damages through a SLAPPback (malicious prosecution action) against the SLAPP filers and their attorneys after the underlying SLAPP has been dismissed. It provides that the prevailing defendant attorney fee and immediate appeal provisions of the anti-SLAPP law do not apply to SLAPPbacks, and that an anti-SLAPP motion may not be filed against a SLAPPback by a party whose filing or maintenance of the prior cause of action from which the SLAPPback arises was illegal as a matter of law.

Code of Civil Procedure sections 1987.1 and 1987.2

These statutes set forth a procedure for challenging subpoenas. The 2008 amendment to section 1987.1 allows any person to challenge subpoenas for “personally identifying information” sought in connection with an underlying lawsuit involving that person’s exercise of free speech rights. This amendment also added section 1987.2(b), which provides that such a person who successfully challenges such a subpoena arising from a lawsuit filed in another state based on exercise of free speech rights on the Internet is entitled to recover his or her attorney fees.

Civil Code section 47

Defines privileged publication or broadcast and immunizes participants in official proceedings or litigation against all tort actions except malicious prosecution. This statute figures prominently in many cases. Check back soon for links to some cases arising from this law.

U.S. Federal Statutes

Communications Decency Act (CDA 230), U.S. Code 47 section 230

Grants interactive online services of all types, including news websites, blogs, forums, and listservs, broad immunity from certain types of legal liability stemming from content created by others. source


Code of Civil Procedure – Section 425.16 California’s Anti-SLAPP Law

Code of Civil Procedure – Section 425.16.

  • (a) The Legislature finds and declares that there has been a disturbing increase in lawsuits brought primarily to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition for the redress of grievances. The Legislature finds and declares that it is in the public interest to encourage continued participation in matters of public significance, and that this participation should not be chilled through abuse of the judicial process. To this end, this section shall be construed broadly.
  • (b)
    • (1) A cause of action against a person arising from any act of that person in furtherance of the person’s right of petition or free speech under the United States Constitution or the California Constitution in connection with a public issue shall be subject to a special motion to strike, unless the court determines that the plaintiff has established that there is a probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim.
    • (2) In making its determination, the court shall consider the pleadings, and supporting and opposing affidavits stating the facts upon which the liability or defense is based.
    • (3) If the court determines that the plaintiff has established a probability that he or she will prevail on the claim, neither that determination nor the fact of that determination shall be admissible in evidence at any later stage of the case, or in any subsequent action, and no burden of proof or degree of proof otherwise applicable shall be affected by that determination in any later stage of the case or in any subsequent proceeding.
  • (c)
    • (1) Except as provided in paragraph
    • (2), in any action subject to subdivision (b), a prevailing defendant on a special motion to strike shall be entitled to recover his or her attorney’s fees and costs. If the court finds that a special motion to strike is frivolous or is solely intended to cause unnecessary delay, the court shall award costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to a plaintiff prevailing on the motion, pursuant to Section 128.5. (2) A defendant who prevails on a special motion to strike in an action subject to paragraph (1) shall not be entitled to attorney’s fees and costs if that cause of action is brought pursuant to Section 6259, 11130, 11130.3, 54960, or 54960.1 of the Government Code. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to prevent a prevailing defendant from recovering attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 6259, 11130.5, or 54690.5.
  • (d) This section shall not apply to any enforcement action brought in the name of the people of the State of California by the Attorney General, district attorney, or city attorney, acting as a public prosecutor.
  • (e) As used in this section, “act in furtherance of a person’s right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue” includes:
    • (1) any written or oral statement or writing made before a legislative, executive, or judicial proceeding, or any other official proceeding authorized by law,
    • (2) any written or oral statement or writing made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or any other official proceeding authorized by law,
    • (3) any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest, or
    • (4) any other conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition or the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest.
  • (f) The special motion may be filed within 60 days of the service of the complaint or, in the court’s discretion, at any later time upon terms it deems proper. The motion shall be scheduled by the clerk of the court for a hearing not more than 30 days after the service of the motion unless the docket conditions of the court require a later hearing.
  • (g) All discovery proceedings in the action shall be stayed upon the filing of a notice of motion made pursuant to this section. The stay of discovery shall remain in effect until notice of entry of the order ruling on the motion. The court, on noticed motion and for good cause shown, may order that specified discovery be conducted notwithstanding this subdivision.
  • (h) For purposes of this section, “complaint” includes “cross-complaint” and “petition,” “plaintiff” includes “cross-complainant” and “petitioner,” and “defendant” includes “cross-defendant” and “respondent.”
  • (i) An order granting or denying a special motion to strike shall be appealable under Section 904.1.
  • (j)
    • (1) Any party who files a special motion to strike pursuant to this section, and any party who files an opposition to a special motion to strike, shall, promptly upon so filing, transmit to the Judicial Council, by e-mail or facsimile, a copy of the endorsed, filed caption page of the motion or opposition, a copy of any related notice of appeal or petition for a writ, and a conformed copy of any order issued pursuant to this section, including any order granting or denying a special motion to strike, discovery, or fees.
    • (2) The Judicial Council shall maintain a public record of information transmitted pursuant to this subdivision for at least three years, and may store the information on microfilm or other appropriate electronic media.

History of statute:

1992 — Senate Bill 264 (Lockyer). For a list of organizations and newspapers that supported enactment of the original statute, see Supporters of 1992 Anti-SLAPP Bill.

1993 — The statute was amended to require award of costs and attorney fees to the plaintiff if the court finds that a special motion to strike is frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay.

1997 — Senate Bill 1296 (Lockyer). The statute was amended in light of appellate court opinions that had narrowly construed application of the statute to disputes involving matters of “public interest”. In amending the statute, the Legislature clarified its intent that any conduct in furtherance of the rights of petition or free speech is protected under the anti-SLAPP law.

1999 — Assembly Bill 1675 (Assembly Judiciary Committee). Under the original statute, a defendant whose special motion to strike a complaint was denied could challenge the denial only through a petition for a writ in the Court of Appeal. Writs are discretionary, disfavored, and rarely successful. If, however, a plaintiff’s complaint were dismissed pursuant to a special motion to strike, the plaintiff was able to appeal the dismissal immediately. Thus, the statute was amended to give the SLAPP target — the person whom the anti-SLAPP law was designed to protect — the same ability as the filer of the SLAPP to challenge an adverse trial court decision. See also Supporters of AB 1675.

2005 — Assembly Bill 1158 (Lieber). The statute was amended to overrule the decision by the California Supreme Court in Wilson v. Parker, Covert & Chidester (2002) 28 Cal.4th 811, which held that the trial court’s erroneous denial of an anti-SLAPP motion constitutes probable cause for filing and maintaining a SLAPP, as well as the decisions in Decker v. The U.D. Registry, Inc.(2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 1382, and Fair Political Practices Commission v. American Civil Rights Coalition, Inc. (2004) 121 Cal.App.4th 1171, which held that the 30-day period in which to schedule a hearing on an anti-SLAPP motion is jurisdictional.

2009 — The statute was amended to add section 425.16(c)(2), which provides that a defendant who prevails on an anti-SLAPP motion may not be awarded fees on claims of violation of the public records act or open meetings law. cited source


Anti-SLAPP Law in California

Note: This page covers information specific to California. For general information concerning Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), see the overview section of this guide.

You can use California’s anti-SLAPP statute to counter a SLAPP suit filed against you. The statute allows you to file a special motion to strike a complaint filed against you based on an “act in furtherance of [your] right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue.” Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16. If a court rules in your favor, it will dismiss the plaintiff’s case early in the litigation and award you attorneys’ fees and court costs.  In addition, if a party to a SLAPP suit seeks your personal identifying information, California law allows you to make a motion to quash the discovery order, request, or subpoena.

Activities Covered By The California Anti-SLAPP Statute

Not every unwelcome lawsuit is a SLAPP. In California, the term applies to lawsuits brought primarily to discourage speech about issues of public significance or public participation in government proceedings. To challenge a lawsuit as a SLAPP, you need to show that the plaintiff is suing you for an “act in furtherance of [your] right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue.” Although people often use terms like “free speech” and “petition the government” loosely in popular speech, the anti-SLAPP law gives this phrase a particular legal meaning, which includes four categories of activities:

  1. any written or oral statement or writing made before a legislative, executive, or judicial proceeding, or any other official proceeding authorized by law;
  2. any written or oral statement or writing made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or any other official proceeding authorized by law;
  3. any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest; or
  4. any other conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition or the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest.

Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16(e)(1-4). As an online publisher, you are most likely to rely on the third category above, which applies to a written statement in a public forum on an issue of public interest.

Under California law, a publicly accessible website is considered a public forum. See Barrett v. Rosenthal, 146 P.3d 510, 514 n.4 (Cal. 2006). The website does not have to allow comments or other public participation, so long as it is publicly available over the Internet. See Wilbanks v. Wolk, 121 Cal. App. 4th 883, 897 (Cal. Ct. App. 2001).

Many different kinds of statements may relate to an issue of public interest. California courts look at factors such as whether the subject of the disputed statement was a person or entity in the public eye, whether the statement involved conduct that could affect large numbers of people beyond the direct participants, and whether the statement contributed to debate on a topic of widespread public interest. Certainly, statements educating the public about or taking a position on a controversial issue in local, state, national, or international politics would qualify. Some other examples include:

  • Statements about the character of a public official, see Vogel v. Felice, 127 Cal. App. 4th 1006 (2005);
  • Statements about the financial solvency of a large institution, such as a hospital, see Integrated Healthcare Holdings, Inc. v. Fitzgibbons, 140 Cal. App. 4th 515, 523 (2006);
  • Statements about a celebrity, or a person voluntarily associating with a celebrity, see Ronson v. Lavandeira, BC 374174 (Cal. Super. Ct. Nov. 1, 2007);
  • Statements about an ideological opponent in the context of debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, see Neuwirth v. Silverstein, SC 094441 (Cal. Super. Ct. Nov. 27, 2007); and
  • Statements about the governance of a homeowners association, see Damon v. Ocean Hills Journalism Club, 85 Cal. App. 4th 468 (2000).

In contrast, California courts have found other statements to be unrelated to an issue of public interest, including:

  • statements about the character of a person who is not in the public eye, see Dyer v. Childress, 147 Cal. App. 4th 1273, 1281 (2007); and
  • statements about the performance of contractual obligations or other private interests, see Ericsson GE Mobile Communs. v. C.S.I. Telcoms. Eng’rs. 49 Cal. App. 4th 1591 (1996).

Although the anti-SLAPP statute is meant to prevent lawsuits from chilling speech and discouraging public participation, you do not need to show that the SLAPP actually discouraged you from participating or speaking out. Nor do you need to show that the plaintiff bringing the SLAPP intended to restrict your free speech.

Protections for Personal Identifying Information Sought in a SLAPP suit

In addition to providing a motion to strike, California law also allows a person whose identifying information is sought in connection with a claim arising from act in exercise of anonymous free speech rights to file a motion to quash — that is, to void or modify the subpoena seeking your personal identifying information so you do not have to provide that information. Cal. Civ. Pro. Code § 1987.1.

How To Use The California Anti-SLAPP Statute

The California anti-SLAPP statute gives you the ability to file a motion to strike (i.e., to dismiss) a complaint brought against you for engaging in protected speech or petition activity (discussed above). If you are served with a complaint that you believe to be a SLAPP, you should seek legal assistance immediately. Successfully filing and arguing a motion to strike can be complicated, and you and your lawyer need to move quickly to avoid missing important deadlines. You should file your motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute within sixty days of being served with the complaint. A court may allow you to file the motion after sixty days, but there is no guarantee that it will do so. Keep in mind that, although hiring legal help is expensive, you can recover your attorneys’ fees if you win your motion.

One of the benefits of the anti-SLAPP statute is that it enables you to get the SLAPP suit dismissed quickly. When you file a motion to strike, the clerk of the court will schedule a hearing on your motion within thirty days after filing. Additionally, once you file your motion, the plaintiff generally cannot engage in “discovery” — that is, the plaintiff generally may not ask you to produce documents, sit for a deposition, or answer formal written questions, at least not without first getting permission from the court.

In ruling on a motion to strike, a court will first consider whether you have established that the lawsuit arises out of a protected speech or petition activity (discussed above). Assuming you can show this, the court will then require the plaintiff to introduce evidence supporting the essential elements of its legal claim. Because a true SLAPP is not meant to succeed in court, but only to intimidate and harass, a plaintiff bringing such a lawsuit will not be able to make this showing, and the court will dismiss the case. On the other hand, if the plaintiff’s case is strong, then the court will not grant your motion to strike, and the lawsuit will move ahead like any ordinary case.

If the court denies your motion to strike, you are entitled to appeal the decision immediately.

In addition to creating the motion to strike, the statute also allows a person whose personal identifying information is sought in connection with a claim arising from act in exercise of anonymous free speech rights to file a motion to quash — that is, to void or terminate the subpoena, request, or discovery order seeking your personal identifying information so you do not have to provide that information.

When you make your motion to quash, the court “may” grant your request if it is “reasonably made.” In reviewing your motion, the court will probably require the plaintiff to make a prima facie showing, meaning he or she must present evidence to support all of the elements of the underlying claim (or, at least, all of the elements within the plaintiff’s control).  See Krinsky v. Doe 6, 159 Cal. App. 4th 1154, 1171 fn. 12 (Cal. App. 6 Dist. 2008). If the plaintiff cannot make that showing, the court will probably quash the subpoena and keep your identity secret.

If you are served with a SLAPP in California, you can report it to the California Anti-SLAPP Project and request assistance. The California Anti-SLAPP Project also has two excellent guides on dealing with a SLAPP suit in California, Survival Guide for SLAPP Victims and Defending Against A SLAPP. In addition, the First Amendment Project has an excellent step-by-step guide to the legal process of defending against a SLAPP in California.

What Happens If You Win A Motion To Strike

If you prevail on a motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, the court will dismiss the lawsuit against you, and you will be entitled to recover your attorneys’ fees and court costs. See Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16(c).

Additionally, if you win your motion to strike and believe that you can show that the plaintiff filed the lawsuit in order to harass or silence you rather than to resolve a legitimate legal claim, then consider filing a “SLAPPback” suit against your opponent. A “SLAPPback” is a lawsuit you can bring against the person who filed the SLAPP suit to recover compensatory and punitive damages for abuse of the legal process. See Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.18 (setting out certain procedural rules for “SLAPPback” suits). Section 425.18 contemplates bringing a SLAPPback in a subsequent lawsuit after the original SLAPP has been dismissed, but you might be able to bring a SLAPPback as a counterclaim in the original lawsuit. You should not underestimate the considerable expense required to bring a SLAPPback, like any lawsuit, to a successful conclusion.

If your successful motion to quash arises out of a lawsuit filed in a California court, the judge has discretion to award expenses incurred in making the motion. The court will award fees if the plaintiff opposed your motion “in bad faith or without substantial justification,” or if at least one part of the subpoena was “oppressive.” Cal. Civ. Pro. Code § 1987.2(a). But note that if you lose your motion to quash, and the court decides that your motion was made in bad faith, you may have to pay the plaintiff’s costs of opposing the motion.

If you successfully quash a California identity-seeking subpoena that relates to a lawsuit filed in another state, the court “shall” award all reasonably expenses incurred in making your motion – including attorneys’ fees – if the following conditions are met:

  • the subpoena was served on an Internet service provider or other Section 230 computer service provider;
  • the underlying lawsuit arose from your exercise of free speech on the Internet; and
  • the plaintiff failed to make his prima facie showing.

Cal. Civ. Pro. Code § 1987.2(b). Jurisdiction: California Subject Area: SLAPP cited https://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/anti-slapp-law-california


California Has a Very Strong Anti-SLAPP Law. California Anti-SLAPP Law

California Anti-SLAPP Law

California has a strong anti-SLAPP law. To challenge a SLAPP suit in California, defendants must show that they are being sued for “any act . . . in furtherance of the person’s right of petition or free speech under the United States Constitution or the California Constitution in connection with a public issue.” Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16 (2019). Under the statute, the rights of free speech or petition in connection with a public issue include four categories of activities: statements made before a legislative, executive or judicial proceeding; statements made in connection with an issue under consideration by a governmental body; statements made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest; and any other conduct in furtherance of the exercise of free speech or petition rights in connection with “a public issue or an issue of public interest.” § 425.16(e).

California courts consider several factors when evaluating whether a statement relates to an issue of public interest, including whether the subject of the statement at issue was a person or entity in the public eye, whether the statement involved conduct that could affect large numbers of people beyond the direct participants, and whether the statement contributed to debate on a topic of widespread public interest. Rivero v. Am. Fed’n of State, Cty., & Mun. Emps., 130 Cal. Rptr. 2d 81, 89–90 (Cal. Ct. App. 2003). Under this standard, statements that report or comment on controversial political, economic, and social issues, from the local to the international level, would certainly qualify. Conversely, a California court has held that statements about a person who was not in the public eye did not relate to an issue of public interest. Dyer v. Childress, 55 Cal. Rptr. 3d 544 (Cal. Ct. App. 2007).

The California anti-SLAPP law allows a defendant to file a motion to strike the complaint, which the court will hear within 30 days unless the docket is overbooked. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16(f). Discovery activities are placed on hold from the time the motion is filed until the court has ruled on it, although the judge may permit “specified discovery” if the requesting party provides notice of its request to the other side and can show good cause for it. § 425.16(g).

In ruling on the motion to strike, a California court will first determine whether the defendant established that the lawsuit arose from one of the statutorily defined protected speech or petition activities. Braun v. Chronicle Publ’g Co., 61 Cal. Rptr. 2d 58 (Cal. Ct. App. 1997). If that is the case, the judge will grant the motion unless the plaintiff can show a probability that he will prevail on the claim. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16(b)(1). In making this determination, the court will consider the plaintiff’s complaint, the SLAPP defendant’s motion to strike, and any sworn statements containing facts on which the assertions in those documents are based. § 425.16(b)(2).

If the court grants the motion to strike, it must impose attorney’s fees and costs on the plaintiff, except when the basis for the lawsuit stemmed from California’s public records or open meetings laws. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16(c)(1)-(2). These laws provide separate provisions for recovering attorney’s fees and costs.

The California anti-SLAPP law also gives a successful defendant who can show that the plaintiff filed the lawsuit to harass or silence the speaker the ability to file a so-called “SLAPPback” lawsuit against his or her opponent. § 425.18. Under this remedy, a SLAPP defendant who won a motion to strike may sue the plaintiff who filed the SLAPP suit to recover damages for abuse of the legal process. Conversely, the defendant must pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs if the court finds that the motion to strike was frivolous or brought solely to delay the proceedings. § 425.16(c)(1).

Either party is entitled to immediately appeal the court’s decision on the motion to strike. § 425.16(i).

To learn more, read San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow’s “decision-tree,” depicting  how anti-SLAPP motions are processed in California. source

 


California  Anti-SLAPP Caselaw

Recent Developments in California Anti-SLAPP Case Law, Summer 2021

 

Click for PDF

This alert surveys recent case law and legislative developments involving California’s anti-SLAPP statute, California Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16(e).  The anti-SLAPP statute offers defendants in actions brought pursuant to California law a powerful procedural tool to seek early dismissal of lawsuits that target defendants’ actions taken in furtherance of their “right of petition or free speech under the United States Constitution or the California Constitution in connection with a public issue.”[1]

Courts apply a two-pronged analytical framework to evaluate an anti-SLAPP special motion to strike.  The first is the “protected activity” prong, under which the defendant has the burden of proving that the activity that gave rise to the plaintiff’s cause of action arises from one of the four enumerated categories under § 425.16(e):

  1. any written or oral statement or writing made before a legislative, executive, or judicial proceeding, or any other official proceeding authorized by law,
  2. any written or oral statement or writing made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or any other official proceeding authorized by law,
  3. any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest, or
  4. any other conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition or the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest.

If the first prong is met, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to establish on the second prong that “there is a probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim.”[2]  Giving additional teeth to the law, a defendant who prevails on an anti-SLAPP special motion to strike is entitled to recover its attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in bringing the motion.[3]

Below, we discuss recent substantive decisions by state and federal courts that apply the anti-SLAPP statute’s framework to lawsuits in the media, finance, employment, and real estate contexts and which involve claims regarding revenge porn, trade libel, unfair competition, business torts, and employment discrimination, and also implicate the law’s commercial-speech exemption.

1.  Hill v. Heslep et al., Case No. 20STCV48797 (Apr. 7, 2021, L.A. Cnty. Super. Ct.)

Facts:  Plaintiff Katherine Hill, a former U.S. Representative from California’s 25th congressional district, sued Mail Media, Inc. (publisher of the Daily Mail) in a California state court for publishing to its MailOnline website nonconsensually distributed nude photographs of Hill.[4]  The photographs had been disseminated by Kenneth Heslep, Hill’s ex-husband (also named as a defendant).  Hill also sued talk-radio host Joe Messina for statements referencing the images that he made on-air and in an article posted to his blog, as well as Salem Media Group, Inc. (owner of the conservative political blog RedState) and RedState editor Jennifer Van Laar for their alleged roles in the distribution of the nude photos.  Hill alleged that the actions of each defendant violated California Civil Code § 1708.85, the state’s revenge porn law, which prohibits the “distribution” of certain types of intimate photographs (among other types of media) without the consent of the depicted individual.  Distribution is not defined by the statute, but Judge Yolanda Orozco of the Los Angeles County Superior Court construed it broadly enough to include activities such as dissemination of prohibited photographs by an individual to others as well as publication by media outlets.  On April 7, 2021, Judge Orozco heard and granted Mail Media’s anti-SLAPP motion to strike; Hill has filed a notice of appeal.

Prong 1:  In analyzing prong one, Judge Orozco noted that “reporting the news is speech subject to the protections of the First Amendment and subject to an anti-SLAPP motion if the report concerns a public issue or an issue of public interest,”[5] and “‘[t]he character and qualifications of a candidate for public office constitutes a “public issue or public interest”’ for purposes of section 425.16.”[6]  While the court agreed with Hill that “the gravamen of her Complaint against [Mail Media] is [its] distribution of Plaintiff’s intimate images,”[7] it noted that this distribution occurred via an online news publication, and the “intimate images published by Defendant spoke to Plaintiff’s character and qualifications for her position, as they allegedly depicted Plaintiff with a campaign staffer whom she was alleged to have had a sexual affair with and appeared to show Plaintiff using a then-illegal drug…”[8]  Thus, “the gravamen of Plaintiff’s Complaint against Defendant constitutes protected activity under Section 425.16(e)(3) and (4).”[9]

Prong 2:  On the second (merits) prong, Judge Orozco noted that Hill’s claims presented a novel intersection of California’s anti-SLAPP and revenge porn laws.  Section 1708.85(a) states, in relevant part,

A private cause of action lies against a person who intentionally distributes… a photograph… of another, without the other’s consent, if (1) the person knew that the other person had a reasonable expectation that the material would remain private, (2) the distributed material exposes an intimate body part of the other person… and (3) the other person suffers general or special damages…

However, Judge Orozco held that the newspaper’s activities fell squarely within the “matter of public concern” exemption contained in § 1708.85(c)(4), as the published images “speak to Plaintiff’s character and qualifications for her position as a Congresswoman.”[10]  Thus, “Plaintiff failed to carry her burden establishing that there is a probability of success on the merits of her claim.”[11]

Other Case Notes & Attorneys’ Fees Awards:  In a subsequent hearing on June 2, 2021, Judge Orozco granted Mail Media’s motion for costs and prevailing-party attorneys’ fees, totaling $104,747.75.[12]  The dismissal of Mail Media’s claims followed the earlier dismissals and awards of attorneys’ fees for all of the other defendants except for Heslep, the lone defendant remaining in the case.[13]  In total, Hill has been ordered to pay over $200,000 in attorneys’ fees to the prevailing defendants.[14]

Of note, Hill was ordered to pay $30,000 in fees and costs to Messina, the radio personality who merely commented about the pictures on his program and blog.[15]  Shortly after Messina filed his anti-SLAPP motion to strike, but before the scheduled hearing, Hill voluntarily withdrew her claims against Messina.  Despite this, Judge Orozco entertained Messina’s motion for attorneys’ fees as the prevailing defendant under Section 425.16.  Judge Orozco noted that “‘because a defendant who has been sued in violation of his… free speech rights is entitled to an award of attorney fees, the trial court must, upon defendant’s motion for a fee award, rule on the merits of the SLAPP motion even if the matter has been dismissed prior to the hearing on that motion.’”[16]  Judge Orozco concluded that Messina was the prevailing party on the merits of the motion to strike and granted the motion for attorneys’ fees.

While the trial court’s orders are non-precedential, the Court of Appeal will have a chance to review them, as on June 18, 2021, Hill filed notices of appeal for the orders granting the anti-SLAPP motions of Mail Media, Van Laar, and Salem Media.

2.   Muddy Waters, LLC v. Superior Court, 62 Cal. App. 5th 905 (2021)

Facts:  In 2017, Perfectus Aluminum, Inc., a distributor of aluminum products, sued Muddy Waters, LLC, a financial analysis firm that engages in activist short selling, following the latter’s publication of a pair of reports that allegedly implicated Perfectus in a scheme to inflate aluminum sales for Zhongwang Holdings, Ltd., a publicly traded Chinese company.[17]  The two reports (“Dupré Reports”) were published by Muddy Waters on a publicly accessible website under the business pseudonym “Dupré Analytics.”  In its complaint, Perfectus alleged that U.S. Customs detained a shipment of the company’s aluminum awaiting export in the port of Long Beach and lost potential business as a result of the allegations in the Dupré Reports, bringing claims for 1) violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law; 2) trade libel; and 3) intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.

The Superior Court of San Bernardino County denied Muddy Waters’s anti-SLAPP motion on the grounds that Muddy Waters failed to prove that the causes of action arose from protected activity and, alternatively, that the commercial speech exemption of Section 425.17(c) applied to the publication of the Dupré Reports, thereby barring an anti-SLAPP challenge.  Because the trial court found Section 425.17 applied, Muddy Waters lacked the immediate right of appeal that is otherwise available upon denial of an anti-SLAPP motion and thus sought a writ of mandate from the Court of Appeal.

Prong 1:  The Court of Appeal began its analysis of the first prong by highlighting the third category of protected activities in § 425.16(e):  “any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest.”  The Court divided the first prong’s analysis into two stages.  In the first stage, the Court determined whether a publicly accessible website constitutes a public forum, and found that it does, as “Internet postings on websites that ‘are open and free to anyone who wants to read the messages’ and ‘accessible free of charge to any member of the public’ satisfies the public forum requirement of section 425.16.”[18]

In the second stage, the Court asked whether the content of the Dupré Reports represented an issue of public interest, and found that it did because the reports alleged that Zhongwang was artificially inflating reported sales and allegations of “mismanagement or investor scams” made against a publicly traded company constitute an “issue of public interest” for purposes of the anti-SLAPP law.[19]

Commercial Speech Exemption:  Before moving to the merits prong of the anti-SLAPP analysis, the Court of Appeal addressed the trial court’s determination that the § 425.17(c) commercial speech exemption applied, thereby barring Muddy Waters’s ability to bring an anti-SLAPP motion.  The Court noted that the plaintiff has the burden of proof to establish the applicability of the commercial speech exemption, and that the exemption is “narrow,” excluding only a “‘subset of commercial speech—specifically, comparative advertising.’”[20]  Thus, it noted, the commercial speech exemption is triggered only with respect to “speech or conduct by a person engaged in the business of selling or leasing goods or services when… that challenged [speech or] conduct pertains to the business of the speaker or his or her competitors.”[21]  In other words, the Court noted, the commercial speech exemption does not apply in circumstances like the current case, where a defendant has made representations of fact about a noncompetitor’s goods in order to promote sales of the defendant’s goods or services.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeal reversed the Superior Court’s determination that the commercial speech exemption applied and barred Muddy Waters from bringing an anti-SLAPP motion.

Prong 2:  The Court of Appeal next determined whether Perfectus had satisfied the merits prong for each of its three causes of action.

For the California UCL claim, the Court wrote that “nothing in the record suggests that plaintiff has lost money or property such that it would have standing to pursue a UCL action against Muddy Waters.”[22]  The Court found that Perfectus had not produced any evidence that would establish a nexus between the alleged unfair practice (publication of the Dupré Reports) and the loss of property (the aluminum that was detained by U.S. Customs), and therefore lacked standing to bring a UCL claim.

For the trade libel claim, the Court noted that Perfectus failed to produce evidence identifying a specific third party that was deterred from conducting business with Perfectus as a result of the Dupré Reports, a required element for the claim.  It wrote, “‘it is not enough to show a general decline in [Perfectus’s] business resulting from the falsehood, even where no other cause for it is apparent… it is only the loss of specific sales [as a result of the defendant’s actions] that can be recovered.’”[23]  Thus, Perfectus’s failure to specify a particular business partner that was convinced by the Dupré Reports to refrain from dealing with Perfectus doomed the trade libel cause of action.

Finally, on the intentional-interference-with-prospective-economic-advantage claim, the Court noted that Perfectus would need to prove an “actual economic relationship with a third party”[24] and that the relationship “‘contains the probability of future economic benefit to [Perfectus],’”[25] but that Perfectus failed to submit evidence that identified such an actual economic relationship with a specific third party.[26]

Result:  The Court of Appeal issued a writ of mandate directing the Superior Court to vacate its order denying Muddy Waters’s anti-SLAPP motion and to enter in its place a new order granting the motion.  Perfectus has sought review in the California Supreme Court.

3.   Verceles v. Los Angeles Unified School District, 63 Cal. App. 5th 776 (2021)

Facts:  Plaintiff Junnie Verceles, a Filipino man who was 46 years old at the time he filed his complaint in March 2019, was a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District from 1998 until his termination on March 13, 2018.[27]  On December 1, 2015, following unspecified allegations of misconduct, Verceles was reassigned and placed on paid suspension, which Verceles described as “teacher jail.”  In November 2016, Verceles filed a discrimination complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) while an investigation by the District into the alleged misconduct was still underway.  The DFEH case was closed on March 7, 2017, and roughly one year later, the District terminated Verceles’s employment.  Verceles alleged three violations of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA):  1) age discrimination, 2) race and national origin discrimination, and 3) retaliation; in response, the District filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike each of the three causes of action.  After the Los Angeles County Superior Court granted the District’s motion, Verceles appealed; the Court of Appeal reversed.

Prong 1:  The District argued that each cause of action arose out of its investigation into teacher misconduct, and was thus protected activity under § 425.16(e).  Verceles argued that the gravamen of his complaint was not the investigation into teacher misconduct, but the discrimination and retaliation that resulted in his firing by the District.  The trial court granted the motion, characterizing the investigation and resulting termination (and alleged discrimination and retaliation) as a single “proceeding” that gave rise to the causes of action.

The Court of Appeal, however, rejected the District’s attempt to “define the alleged adverse action broadly to encompass the entirety of its investigation into Verceles’s purported misconduct.”[28]  Instead, the Court found persuasive Verceles’s argument that the investigation as a whole into his alleged misconduct was not tainted by discriminatory or retaliatory intent.  After all, Verceles argued, the investigation began before Verceles filed his DFEH complaint, and so up to that point, there was nothing for the District to retaliate against.  Furthermore, Verceles argued, the District’s other investigations into alleged misconduct did not demonstrate a pattern of discrimination against protected groups that resulted in the requisite disparate impact; however, according to Verceles, the District’s termination practices and use of “teacher’s jail” to discipline a relative few number of teachers like him did demonstrate such a pattern of disparate, adverse impacts on protected groups.  Thus, the Court concluded that the activities that underpinned Verceles’s complaint were his reassignment to “teacher’s jail” and termination.

The District argued that the “investigation was an ‘official proceeding authorized by law’ for purposes of [425.16(e)(2)],” and that all actions taken in the course of the investigation—including the decision to reassign and terminate Verceles—fell within the ambit of this protected activity.[29]  The Court acknowledged that the District was generally correct to state that an investigation into alleged misconduct by a public employee is categorized as “an official proceeding”; however, the Court rejected the idea that every action taken during the course of such an investigation constituted a protected activity for anti-SLAPP purposes.[30]  “Such an interpretation,” wrote the Court, “ignores the plain language of the statute, which requires a claim be based on a written or oral statement made in connection with the proceeding.”[31]  Instead, Section 425.16(e) protects the District’s speech and petitioning activity “that led up to or contributed” to the decision to reassign and terminate Verceles, but it did not protect the actual acts of reassignment and termination.[32]  Thus, “In the absence of any oral or written statements from which Verceles’ claims arise, the District’s decisions to place Verceles on leave and terminate his employment are not protected activity within the meaning of [Section 425.16(e)(2)].”[33]

Result:  Thus, the Court held that the District failed to meet its burden under the first prong of the anti-SLAPP analysis and reversed the trial court’s judgment granting the District’s motion to strike and motion for attorney’s fees as the prevailing party.  The Court also granted Verceles’s the costs related to his appeal of the order granting the motion to strike.  The District filed a petition for review, which is currently pending before the California Supreme Court.

4.   Appel v. Wolf, 839 F. App’x 78 (9th Cir. 2020)

Facts:  Defendant Robert Wolf is an attorney who represents Concierge Auctions, LLC, a company that specializes in auctioning off luxury real estate.  A dispute arose between Concierge and the plaintiff Howard Appel over the sale of property in Fiji.  During the course of this dispute, Wolf sent an email containing an allegedly defamatory statement that Wolf knew Appel and that Appel “had legal issues (securities fraud).”[34]  After Appel sued Wolf for defamation, Wolf filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike, arguing that the statements in the email were made pursuant to settlement discussions in the course of litigation and so were protected under Section 425.16.  The district court denied the motion to strike and Wolf appealed.  Though it found the district court erred in its prong-one analysis, the Ninth Circuit found such error harmless and therefore affirmed.

Prong 1:  In its first prong analysis, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court erred in holding that Wolf’s email communication was not protected activity, as acts that occur in the course of litigation “are generally considered protected conduct falling within section 425.16(e)(2)’s broad ambit.”[35]  The panel noted that “[t]his protection extends to ‘an attorney’s communication with opposing counsel on behalf of a client regarding pending litigation’ and includes ‘an offer of settlement to counsel.’”[36]  The panel then found that “[t]he district court misapplied California law when it reasoned that Wolf’s email—which was sent to Appel’s counsel, allegedly ‘begging for a phone[-]call discussion about possible settlement of Appel’s case against Concierge’—was insufficiently concrete to qualify as protected conduct,” because “Section 425.16(e)(2) has no such ‘concreteness’ requirement.”[37]  Thus, the allegedly libelous email qualified for Section 425.16(e)(2)’s protection, and Wolf satisfied his burden of establishing the first prong.

Prong 2:  However, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court’s error on prong one was ultimately harmless, because Appel was “reasonably likely to succeed on the merits of his claim, given that Wolf’s email was facially defamatory and not immunized by California’s litigation privilege.”[38]  First, the complaint’s allegations and the email itself supported the district court’s finding that Wolf’s statement “would have negative, injurious ramifications on [Appel’s] integrity.”[39]  Next, though Wolf’s statement was made in the context of settlement negotiations, the panel held it was not privileged, as “the privilege ‘does not prop the barn door wide open’ for every defamatory ‘charge or innuendo,’ merely because the libelous statement is included in a presumptively privileged communication,”[40] and “Appel established that Wolf’s false insinuation that he had been involved in securities fraud is not reasonably relevant to Appel’s underlying dispute with Concierge.”[41]

Result:  The Ninth Circuit thus affirmed the district court’s denial of Wolf’s anti-SLAPP motion.

5.   SB 329 Proposes Limitation on Use of Anti-SLAPP Motions in “No Contest” Wills and Trust Actions

Finally, a new bill, California Senate Bill 329, introduced by Senator Brian Jones (R, 38th Dist.), proposes to prohibit the use of anti-SLAPP motions in actions relating to wills and trusts.  The bill would amend Section 425.17 to add the following provision: “(e) Section 425.16 does not apply to an action to enforce a no contest clause contained in a will, trust, or other instrument.  As used in this subdivision, ‘no contest clause’ has the meaning provided in Section 21310 of the Probate Code.”  A “no-contest” clause is a provision that disinherits a beneficiary who challenges a will or trust.

The Senate Floor Analysis of the bill notes that “[a]lthough commonly associated with the protection of constitutional rights, the anti-SLAPP statute applies to a broad range of contexts, including proceedings to enforce a no-contest clause in a trust or will that penalizes beneficiaries who challenge the terms of the will without probable cause.”  The Senate Judiciary notes that two recent Court of Appeal cases “establish that the anti-SLAPP statute applies to no-contest enforcement petitions.”[42]  SB 329 is sponsored by the California Conference of Bar Associations and the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the California Lawyers Association, which “argue that the statute was not intended to apply in this context and that it offers minimal upside while opening the door to needless litigation and cost.”

 

  •     [1]             Cal. Civ. Code § 425.16(b)(1).
  •     [2]             Id.
  •     [3]             Id. § 425.16(c)(1).
  •     [4]             Hill v. Heslep et al., Case No. 20STCV48797, at *1 (Apr. 7, 2021, L.A. Cnty. Super. Ct.).
  •     [5]             Id. at *8 (citing Liberman v. KCOP Television, Inc., 110 Cal. App. 4th 156, 164 (2003)).
  •     [6]             Id. at *6-7 (quoting Collier v. Harris, 240 Cal. App. 4th 41, 52 (2015)).
  •     [7]             Id. at *7-8.
  •     [8]             Id. at *8.
  •     [9]             Id. at *7.
  •     [10]            Id. at *13.
  •     [11]            Id.
  •     [12]            Hill v. Heslep et al., Case No. 20STCV48797 at *5 (Super. Ct. of L.A. Cnty., June 2, 2021).
  •     [13]            Nathan Solis, Katie Hill Owes Daily Mail $105K for Attorney Fees in Nude Photo Fight, Courthouse News Service (June 2, 2021),
    https://www.courthousenews.com/katie-hill-owes-daily-mail-105k-for-attorney-fees-in-nude-photo-fight/.
  •     [14]            Id.
  •     [15]            Hill v. Heslep, et. al., Case No. 20STCV48797, at *12 (Super. Ct. of L.A. Cnty., May 4, 2021).
  •     [16]            Id. at *3 (citing Pfeiffer Venice Properties v. Bernard, 101 Cal. App. 4th 211, 218 (2002)).
  •     [17]            Muddy Waters, LLC v. Superior Ct., 62 Cal. App. 5th 905, 912-93 (2021), reh’g denied (Apr. 23, 2021), petition for review filed (May 18, 2021).
  •     [18]            Muddy Waters, 62 Cal. App. 5th at 917 (citing ComputerXpress, Inc. v. Jackson, 93 Cal. App. 4th 993, 1007 (2001)).
  •     [19]            Id. at 918.
  •     [20]            Id. at 919-20 (citing Dean v. Friends of Pine Meadow, 21 Cal. App. 5th 91, 105 (2018)).
  •     [21]            Id. at 919.
  •     [22]            Id. at 923.
  •     [23]            Id. at 925 (citing Erlich v. Etner, 224 Cal. App. 2d 69, 73 (1964)).
  •     [24]            Id. at 926.
  •     [25]            Id. (citing Korea Supply Co. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 29 Cal 4th 1134, 1164 (2003)).
  •     [26]            Muddy Waters, 62 Cal. App. 5th at 926-27.
  •     [27]            Verceles v. Los Angeles Unified Sch. Dist., 63 Cal. App. 5th 776, 779 (2021), petition for review filed (June 3, 2021).
  •     [28]            Id. at 785.
  •     [29]            Id. at 787.
  •     [30]            Id.
  •     [31]            Id.
  •     [32]            Id.
  •     [33]            Id. at 788.
  •     [34]            Appel v. Wolf, 839 F. App’x 78, 80 (9th Cir. 2020).
  •     [35]            Id.
  •     [36]            Id. (citing GeneThera, Inc. v. Troy & Gould Pro. Corp., 171 Cal. App. 4th 901, 905 (2009)).
  •     [37]            Id. at 80.
  •     [38]            Id.
  •     [39]            Id.
  •     [40]            Id. at 81 (quoting Nguyen v. Proton Technology Corp., 69 Cal. App. 4th 140, 150 (1999)).
  •     [41]            Id.
  •     [42]            Citing Key v. Tyler, 34 Cal. App. 5th 505 (2019); Urick v. Urick, 15 Cal. App. 5th 1182 (2017).

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California Anti-SLAPP Motions Are Safe in Federal Courts . . . For Now

For over two decades, the Ninth Circuit has treated California’s anti-SLAPP statute as substantive law and refrained from applying the Erie doctrine to question whether anti-SLAPP motions generally should be precluded in federal courts absent a “direct conflict.”2 Anti-SLAPP motions are often favored by defendants in California, as they can provide speedy relief for individuals or entities sued for conduct involving their rights of free speech or petition to potentially obtain an early exit from litigation before significant costs accrue, by creating a procedural mechanism whereby defendants can require plaintiffs alleging such claims to substantiate their merits at the case’s earliest stages.3

In recent years, however, federal courts across at least five circuits have called this deferential approach into question when evaluating their own respective states’ versions of similar statutes. Rather than holistically defer to state anti-SLAPP laws as substantive absent a “direct conflict,” courts in the Second, Fifth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits, along with the D.C. Circuit, have consistently invoked the Erie doctrine to evaluate whether each anti-SLAPP provision is substantive or procedural.4

In August 2022, the Ninth Circuit spoke up to reaffirm its position regarding the propriety of anti-SLAPP motions in federal courts within its jurisdiction. Recognizing the deepening divide ripping across the country, the Court in CoreCivic v. Candide Group again protected California’s anti-SLAPP statute from the Erie inquiry, holding that no basis existed to undermine its previous position that no conflict justifies precluding the motions in Ninth Circuit federal courts.6

While acknowledging the existence of out-of-circuit decisions holding otherwise with respect to other states’ anti-SLAPP statutes, these sister circuit decisions left the Ninth Circuit unfazed with its approach to California’s statute.7 Furthermore, the Court quelled minority opinions within the Ninth Circuit that suggested California’s anti-SLAPP statutes are trumped by the Federal Rules of Procedure Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 56, governing motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment, respectively.8 Rather, the Court reconciled any potential conflicts by explaining that anti-SLAPP statute provisions “must be analyzed under the same standard” that Rules 12(b)(6) and 56 impose, again treating the anti-SLAPP provisions as purely substantive.9

CoreCivic may cause a ripple effect across other circuits and deepen the stark divide. The issue is ripe for the Supreme Court to break its longstanding silence on whether and to what extent state anti-SLAPP laws are preempted.10 While the silence has sparked creative potential alternatives, such as the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act (UPEPA), a model anti-SLAPP statute approved by the Uniform Law Commission in 2020, states have been slow to adopt it, leaving litigants in other jurisdictions open to the possibility of forum shopping in circuits that view state anti-SLAPP statutes as conflicting with federal law.11 Litigants in the Ninth Circuit, however, need not worry about such things—at least not yet.

  • 1 See, e.g., U.S. ex rel. Newsham v. Lockheed Missiles & Space Co., 190 F.3d 963, 972 (9th Cir. 1999) (hereinafter “Newsham”) (internal citations omitted) (In the absence of a “direct collision” between a state anti-SLAPP law and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, state statute applies in federal diversity actions.).
  • 2 It is well-established that when state law conflicts with federal law, courts use the Erie test to determine which law applies. The first step to the Erie test is whether “a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ‘answer[s] the same question’ as the [special motion to strike].” Abbas v. Foreign Pol’y Grp., LLC, 783 F.3d 1328, 1335 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (quoting Shady Grove Orthopedic Assocs., P.A. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 559 U.S. 393, 398-99 (2010)). If the result is in the affirmative, then the Federal Rule governs. Id. Although an exception arises if the Federal Rule violates the Rules Enabling Act, the U.S. Supreme court has “rejected every challenge to the Federal Rules that it has considered under the Rules Enabling Act.” Id. at 1336.
  • 3 Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 426.16.
  • 4 See La Liberte v. Reid, 966 F.3d 79, 86–88 (2d Cir. 2020); Klocke v. Watson, 936 F.3d 240, 244–49 (5th Cir. 2019); Los Lobos Renewable Power, LLC v. AmeriCulture, Inc., 885 F.3d 659, 668–73 (10th Cir. 2018); Carbone v. Cable News Network, Inc., 910 F.3d 1345, 1349–57 (11th Cir. 2018); Abbas v. Foreign Pol’y Grp., LLC, 783 F.3d 1328, 1333–37 (D.C. Cir. 2015).
  • 5 CoreCivic v. Candide Grp., No. 20-17285, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 24417, at *10-12 (9th Cir. Aug. 30, 2022), reh’g denied en banc, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 29257 (9th Cir. Oct. 20, 2022).
  • 6 Greenberg Traurig, LLP has represented and continues to represent CoreCivic in a wide array of matters, but did not participate in the Candide litigation.
  • 7 CoreCivic, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 24417, at *15.
  • 8 Id. at *16.
  • 9 Id.
  • 10 The Supreme Court has consistently refused to take cases involving state anti-SLAPP laws. See, e.g., Yagman v. Edmondson, 723 Fed. App’x 463 (9th Cir. 2018), cert. denied, 139 S. Ct. 823 (2019); Planned Parenthood Fed’n of Am., Inc. v. Ctr. for Med. Progress, 897 F.3d 1224 (9th Cir. 2018), cert denied, 139 S. Ct. 1446 (2019). As recently as February 2021, the Supreme Court again refused by denying review in Clifford v. Trump, 141 S.Ct. 1374 (2021), which presented the conflict between the Ninth Circuit and the Fifth Circuit’s holdings on the applicability of the Texas anti-SLAPP law in federal court.
  • 11 Only three states have enacted UPEPA (Hawaii, Kentucky, and Washington), and five states have introduced it (Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, and North Carolina) as of November 2022. See Public Expression Protection Act, Uniform Law Commission (Nov. 1, 2022).

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SLAPP Cases Decided by the California Supreme Court

 

SLAPP Cases Decided by the California Supreme Court

The following are opinions issued by the California Supreme Court concerning the anti-SLAPP statute (CCP § 425.16).  Clicking on the name of the case will lead to the text of the opinion.  For opinions issued in and after 2014, clicking on the case name will lead to the text of the opinion on Google Scholar.

Baral v. Schnitt
California Supreme Court, 2016
1 Cal.5th 376, 205 Cal.Rptr.3d 475, 376 P.3d 604

Plaintiff’s second amended complaint contained causes of action for breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and a claim for declaratory relief.  Defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion sought to strike all references to an audit by an accounting firm.  The trial court denied the motion without deciding whether the complaint contained allegations of protected activity, ruling that the anti-SLAPP motion applied only to entire causes of action as pleaded in the complaint, or to the complaint as a whole, not to isolated allegations within causes of action.  The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, as used in § 425.16(b)(1), “cause of action” referred to allegations of protected activity asserted as grounds for relief, and thus the anti-SLAPP statute could reach distinct claims within pleaded counts, requiring a probability of prevailing on any claim for relief based on allegations of protected activity, even if mixed with assertions of unprotected activity.  The Court disapproved of the opinion in Mann v. Quality Old Time Service, Inc. (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 90.

Barrett v. Rosenthal
California Supreme Court, 2006
40 Cal.4th 33, 51 Cal.Rptr.3d 55, 146 P.3d 510

Three plaintiffs, vocal critics of alternative medicine, sued our client, breast-implant awareness activist Ilena Rosenthal, for defamation and related claims, based on critical comments she made about two of them on the Internet. The trial court granted her anti-SLAPP motion. The Court of Appeal affirmed this ruling as to two plaintiffs, but reversed as to the third. The California Supreme Court held that the third plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed as well, ruling that Rosenthal was protected from civil liability for republication of the words of another on the Internet by section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. On remand, the trial court awarded more than $434,000 for attorneys fees.

Barry v. The State Bar of California
California Supreme Court, Jan. 5, 2017
2 Cal.5th 318, 212 Cal.Rptr.3d 124, 386 P.3d 788

Plaintiff attorney filed an action seeking to vacate a stipulation she had entered into to having committed professional misconduct and a 60-day suspension from the practice of law.  The trial court granted the State Bar’s anti-SLAPP motion, ruling that the claims arose from protected activity and that plaintiff could not establish a probability of prevailing, because (inter alia) a superior court lacked subject mater jurisdiction over attorney discipline matters.  The trial court also awarded $2,575 in attorneys’ fees.  Plaintiff appealed the fee award.  The Court of Appeal reversed the fee award, finding  that the trial court’s lack of subject matter jurisdiction precluded it from ruling on the State Bar’s anti-SLAPP motion and awarding fees.  The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal and upheld the fee award, holding that the superior court properly found that plaintiff had failed to show a probability of prevailing on her claim because the superior court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, and that said ruling was not on the merits of plaintiff’s claim.

Bonni v. St. Joseph Health System
California Supreme Court, 2021
11 Cal.5th 995, 281 Cal.Rptr. 3d 678, 491 P.3d 1058

Briggs v. ECHO
California Supreme Court, 1999
19 Cal.4th 1106, 81 Cal.Rptr.2d 471, 969 P.2d 564

The Briggses, landlords, sued our client, a nonprofit organization that provides counseling, mediation, and referral services related to landlord-tenant disputes, alleging that the organization harassed and defamed them. The trial court granted defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court reversed in a 2-1 decision, finding no “issue of public significance” in the defendant’s conduct. In its first case involving the California anti-SLAPP law, the California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal, holding that the anti-SLAPP statute is to be construed broadly and covers any lawsuit arising from the exercise of the right to petition the government, regardless of the issue involved. In total, the trial court awarded more than $425,000 for attorneys fees and costs.

City of Cotati v. Cashman
California Supreme Court, 2002
29 Cal.4th 69, 124 Cal.Rptr.2d 519, 52 P.3d 695
Note:  This case was reviewed together with Navellier v. Sletten and Equilon Enterprises v. Consumer Cause, Inc.

A city’s action for declaratory relief respecting the constitutionality of its ordinance, filed in state court in response to a similar action filed by citizens in federal court, does not constitute a SLAPP and is not subject to Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16.

City of Montebello v. Vasquez
California Supreme Court, 2016
1 Cal.5th 409, 205 Cal.Rptr.3d 499, 376 P.3d 624

A city sued three of its former council members and a former city administrator, claiming they violated Gov. Code, § 1090, by voting on a waste hauling contract in which they held a financial interest.  The trial court denied defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion.    The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that defendants’ votes on the contract were not protected activity under § 425.16.  The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the council member defendants’ votes cast in favor of the contract at issue constituted protected activity under § 425.16.

Club Members for an Honest Election v. Sierra Club
California Supreme Court, 2008
45 Cal.4th 309, 86 Cal.Rptr.3d 288, 196 P.3d 1094

Club Members for an Honest Election (Club) sued the Sierra Club, claiming its elections were unfairly influenced when the board of directors promoted the views that advanced the majority of the Board and members’ position, in conflict with Club’s minority interests. The Court of Appeal applied the public interest litigation exception under C.C.P. 425.17(b) and allowed plaintiff’s claim to proceed, based on the reasoning that the main purpose of the lawsuit was to protect the public interest. The California Supreme Court reversed this decision, holding that the Court of Appeal applied the exception too broadly. The Supreme Court rejected the appellate court’s application of the “principle thrust or gravamen” test and stated that 425.17(b) must be narrowly interpreted. For a claim to fall within the public interest exception, the plaintiff must seek to advance the public interest, and only the public interest. In this case, plaintiff requested remedies that would benefit Club by advancing its interests within the Sierra Club. By seeking a personal gain, the plaintiff was prohibited from invoking the exception. The Court ruled in favor of the Sierra Club and granted its anti-SLAPP motion.

Equilon Enterprises, LLC v. Consumer Cause, Inc.
California Supreme Court, 2002
29 Cal.4th 53, 124 Cal.Rptr.2d 507, 52 P.3d 685
Note:  This case was reviewed together with Navellier v. Sletten and City of Cotati v. Cashman

The party moving to strike a complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute is not required to demonstrate that the action was brought with the intent to chill the exercise of constitutional speech or petition rights.

Fahlen v. Sutter Central Valley Hospitals
California Supreme Court, 2014
58 Cal.4th 655, 168 Cal.Rptr.165, 318 P.3d 833

FilmOn.com Inc. v. DoubleVerify Inc.
California Supreme Court, 2019
7 Cal.5th 133, 246 Cal.Rptr.3d 591, 439 P.3d 1156

Flatley v. Mauro
California Supreme Court, 2006
39 Cal.4th 299, 46 Cal.Rptr.3d 606, 139 P.3d 2

Flatley, a well-known entertainer, sued attorney Mauro, who threatened to take legal action against him for Flatley’s alleged rape of Mauro’s client. Mauro sent Flatley a “prelitigation settlement” offer demanding payment of $100,000,000 to settle the claim. If Flatley refused to pay, Mauro threatened to not only file a lawsuit, but to widely publicize the rape allegation, including following Flatley around to every place he toured, and to “ruin” Flatley. In addition, Mauro threatened to publicly disclose other alleged criminal violations of immigration and tax law that were entirely unrelated to the rape allegation. The Court of Appeal found that Mauro’s actions constituted extortion as a matter of law, and affirmed the trial court’s denial of his anti-SLAPP motion. The California Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeal, holding that a defendant cannot assert the anti-SLAPP statute to protect illegal activity if “either the defendant concedes, or the evidence conclusively establishes, that the assertedly protected speech or petition activity was illegal as a matter of law.” The Court noted that this was a “narrow” exception, based on the extreme circumstance in this case. Thus, the Court held that Mauro’s anti-SLAPP motion was properly denied.

Gates v. Discovery Communications, Inc.
California Supreme Court, 2004
34 Cal.4th 679, 21 Cal.Rptr.3d 663, 101 P.3d 552

Gates had been convicted of accessory after the fact to a murder and served three years in prison. Several years later Discovery produced a program about the crime, portraying Gates’s involvement. After the program was broadcast, Gates sued Discovery for defamation and invasion of privacy. The trial court granted Discovery’s demurrer to the defamation cause of action but denied its demurrer to the complaint for invasion of privacy. Discovery then filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the latter complaint; the court denied the motion, finding that Discovery had failed to demonstrate that its account of the crime was newsworthy, thus making it likely that Gates would prevail on his complaint for invasion of privacy. The appellate court’s reversal was upheld, since Discovery’s report is protected by the First Amendment and current case law would make it impossible for Gates to prevail on his claim.

Geiser v. Kuhns
California Supreme Court, 2022
13 Cal.5th 1238, 297 Cal. Rptr. 3d 592, 515 P.3d 623

In re Episcopal Church Cases
California Supreme Court, 2009
45 Cal.4th 467, 87 Cal.Rptr.3d 275, 198 P.3d 66

The Los Angeles Diocese sued St. James Parish to recover property when the Parish broke with the Episcopal Church, largely over a doctrinal disagreement after the Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop. The Parish filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that its disagreement with the Church arose from protected speech. The trial court granted the motion, which was reversed by the Court of Appeal. The California Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s decision and held that, because the central issue in the case was a property dispute, the anti-SLAPP motion was not appropriate. The Court recognized that protected speech was tangentially at issue, but held that the action must “arise from” protected activity for the defendant to succeed in an anti-SLAPP motion. The Court recognized that protected activity might “lurk in the background,” but found that this would not transform a property dispute into a SLAPP.

Jarrow Formulas, Inc. v. LaMarche
California Supreme Court, 2003
31 Cal.4th 728, 3 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 74 P.3d 737

The court affirms the Court of Appeal’s decision that a malicious prosecution action is not exempt from scrutiny under the state’s anti-SLAPP law.

Ketchum v. Moses
California Supreme Court, 2001
24 Cal.4th 1122, 104 Cal.Rptr.2d 377, 17 P.3d 735

Ketchum sued his tenant Moses for allegedly filing false reports with government agencies about the condition of Ketchum’s property. Moses prevailed on a special motion to strike Ketchum’s complaint. Moses had a contingency fee contract with his attorney; if the anti-SLAPP motion failed, the attorney would receive no fee. The trial court awarded attorney’s fees, as required by the anti-SLAPP statute, and included a fee enhancement to reflect the risk of nonpayment in a contingency contract. It later supplemented this award with additional fees and costs after Ketchum attempted to challenge the fee award. The Court of Appeal reversed. The Supreme Court affirms the judgement of the Court of Appeal but criticizes the rationale of the Court of Appeal. A successful movant of an anti-SLAPP motion is entitled not only to attorney fees incurred in the pursuit of the anti-SLAPP motion, but also to fees incurred in litigating the award of attorney fees. While attorney fees incurred in pursuit of an anti-SLAPP motion may be enhanced to reflect contingent risk, fees incurred after a successful motion may not be so enhanced because an award of fees is mandatory under the anti-SLAPP statute and therefore there is no risk of nonpayment.

Kibler v. Northern Inyo County Local Hospital District
California Supreme Court, 2006
39 Cal.4th 192, 46 Cal.Rptr.2d 41, 138 P.3d 193

Physician George Kibler sued defendant hospital and its employees for defamation and other torts after defendants addressed complaints in a peer review meeting that Kibler was verbally abusive and physically threatening at work, resulting in his temporary suspension. Both the trial and appellate courts granted the hospital’s special motion to strike Kibler’s complaint.

The California Supreme Court reviewed the case to establish whether a hospital peer review proceeding was “any other official proceeding authorized by law” under 425.16(e)(2). The court concluded that peer review actions, mandated by the Business and Professions Code, function as a quasi-judicial proceeding and are within the ambit of anti-SLAPP protection. The court affirmed the granting of defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion.

Monster Energy Co. v. Schechter
California Supreme Court, 2019
7 Cal.5th 781, 249 Cal.Rptr.3d 295, 444 P.3d 97

Navellier v. Sletten
California Supreme Court, 2002
29 Cal.4th 82, 124 Cal.Rptr.2d 530, 52 P.3d 703
Note:  This case was reviewed together with Equilon Enterprises, LLC v. Consumer Cause, Inc. and City of Cotati v. Cashman

Plaintiffs sued Sletten for a variety of causes, including breach of contract for filing counterclaims in an earlier lawsuit in federal court. Sletten moved to strike this cause of action as a SLAPP, claiming that his counterclaims were protected under the First Amendment’s right of petition. The Court of Appeal (in an unpublished decision) concluded that Sletten’s counterclaims were not a “valid exercise” of that right, as required by the anti-SLAPP statute, since he had earlier waived his right to sue Navellier in a “release of claims” as a condition of return to employment. The Supreme Court reverses, holding that Sletten had met his threshold burden of demonstrating that Navellier’s action for breach of contract “is one arising from the type of speech and petitioning activity that is protected by the anti-SLAPP statute.” (See follow-on decision in Navellier v. Sletten, First District Court of Appeal.)

Newport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism
California Supreme Court, 3/22/18

A defendant must file a special motion to strike a cause of action within 60 days of service of the earliest complaint that contains that cause of action, pursuant to CCP § 425.16(f), subject to the trial court’s discretion under that subdivision to permit late filing (rejecting contrary ruling in Yu v. Signet Bank/Virginia (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 298).

Oasis West Realty, LLC v. Goldman
California Supreme Court, 2011
51 Cal.4th 811, 124 Cal.Rptr.3d 256, 250 P.3d 1115

Plaintiff sued its former attorney and his law firm for breach of fiduciary duty and related claims.  The attorney had represented the client in obtaining approval for a redevelopment project.  After the representation ended, the attorney campaigned against the city council’s approval of the redevelopment project by soliciting signatures on a referendum petition.  The trial court denied defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, holding that the anti-SLAPP law did not apply.  The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the claims arose from protected petitioning activity and plaintiff has not shown a probability of prevailing on its claims.  The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal.  Citing the Court’s  “inherent, primary authority over the practice of law,” the Court proceeded directly to the second “prong” (whether plaintiff has shown a probability of prevailing on its claims) without addressing the first “prong” (whether the anti-SLAPP law applies).  It found that plaintiff had met its burden on the second “prong,” holding that from the undisputed facts, it was reasonable to infer that the attorney relied on confidential information in opposing the project, the requirement that a lawyer not misuse a client’s confidential information applied to discussion of public issues, and such misuse of information was not protected speech under the First Amendment.

Olson v. Doe
(January 13, 2022, S258498)

Parrish v. Latham & Watkins
California Supreme Court, 2017
3 Cal.5th 767, 400 P.3d 1

The denial of summary judgment barred a subsequent malicious prosecution action under the interim adverse judgment rule, notwithstanding a finding of bad faith.

Park v. Board of Trustees of California State University
California Supreme Court, 2017
2 Cal.5th 1057, 98 Cal. Rptr. 859, 393 P.3d 905

Professor Sungho Park sued the California State University, challenging its decision to deny him tenure, asserting that it was discriminatory.  The University filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which was denied by the trial court, holding that the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply.  In a 2-1 decision, the Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the university could invoke the anti-SLAPP law because the professor’s lawsuit was based on communications the university made in the course of arriving at its decision to deny tenure, which were made in connection with an official proceeding.

In a unanimous opinion, the California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal.  The Court held that “a claim is not subject to a motion to strike simply because it contests an action or decision that was arrived at following speech or petitioning activity, or that was thereafter communicated by means of speech or petitioning activity.  Rather, a claim may be struck only if the speech or petitioning activity itself  is the wrong complained of, and not just evidence of liability or a step leading to some different act for which liability is asserted.”  The Court disapproved of three Court of Appeal opinions, Nesson v. Northern Inyo County Local Hospital DistrictDeCambre v. Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, and Tuszynska v. Cunningham.

Rand Resources, LLC v. City of Carson
California Supreme Court, 2019
6 Cal.5th 610, 243 Cal.Rptr.3d 1, 433 P.3d 899

Rusheen v. Cohen
California Supreme Court, 2006
37 Cal.4th 1048, 39 Cal.Rptr.3d 516, 128 P.3d 713

Rusheen sued Cohen for abuse of process, for allegedly filing false declarations on the issue of service, and conspiring to execute the resulting default judgment against Rusheen. Cohen filed an anti-SLAPP motion, asserting that Cohen’s conduct was privileged under Civil Code section 47(b) as communications in the course of a judicial proceeding. The trial court agreed and granted the motion. The appellate court reversed on the grounds that executing on the improper default judgment was unprivileged, noncommunicative conduct.

The California Supreme Court reversed, holding that the anti-SLAPP motion should have been granted. It concluded that where the gravamen of the complaint is a privileged communication (i.e., allegedly perjured declarations of service) the privilege extends to necessarily related noncommunicative acts (i.e., act of levying).

S.B. Beach Properties v. Berti
California Supreme Court, 2006
39 Cal.4th 374, 46 Cal.Rptr.3d 360, 138 P.3d 713

When plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their entire action without prejudice before defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, defendants could not recover attorney fees and costs pursuant to 425.16, subsection (c).

Serova vs. Sony Music Entertainment et al.
California Supreme Court, 2022
13 Cal.5th 859

Simpson Strong-Tie Co. v. Gore
California Supreme Court, 2010
49 Cal.4th 12109 Cal.Rptr. 3d 329, 230 P.3d 1117

In 2004, defendant attorney Pierce Gore placed several newspaper ads advising deck owners of potential legal claims against plaintiff Simpson Strong-Tie. The company sued Gore, listing a litany of claims like trade libel and unfair business practices, for implying that the company’s galvanized screws were defective, and sought to enjoin the ad. When Gore filed a special motion to strike, Simpson Strong-Tie invoked C.C.P. §425.17(c), the commercial speech exception. The trial court rejected Simpson Strong-Tie’s argument and granted the special motion to strike, which was upheld on appeal.

In affirming the Court of Appeal, the California Supreme Court looked at the parameters of the commercial speech exception under 425.17(c). The Court held that the burden of showing the applicability of 425.17(c) falls on the plaintiff. The Court then clarified that the purpose of the exception was to stop businesses from using advertising to “trash talk” competitors. Gore sold legal services, not screws—he was not a business competitor with defendant, thus his ad was not the type of speech targeted by subsection (c). Under the two-step analysis, the Court found that Gore’s speech was protected.

Soukup v. Law Offices of Herbert Hafif
California Supreme Court, 2006
39 Cal.4th 260, 46 Cal.Rptr.3d 638. 139 P.3d 30

Plaintiff Peggy Soukup filed a SLAPPback action for abuse of process and malicious prosecution against her former employers after prevailing on her anti-SLAPP motion. Plaintiffs’-turned-defendants’ attorney Herbert Hafif then filed a special motion to strike her complaint.

The California Supreme Court considered the legislative purpose of C.C.P. §425.18(h), which precludes a SLAPPback defendant from filing a special motion to strike if the underlying action was illegal as a matter of law; the statute also “stack[s] the procedural deck in favor” of SLAPPback plaintiffs. Finding that the SLAPP Hafif filed against Soukup did not violate various statutes and was not a “sham” lawsuit, the court ruled that Hafif did not break the law in asserting claims against Soukup, despite the fact that his claim was dismissed as a SLAPP. Ultimately, the court found that Soukup showed a probability of prevailing on the malicious prosecution claim and remanded the case for further proceedings.

In a separate motion, Hafif’s anti-SLAPP appellate counsel Ronald Stock sought to strike Soukup’s claim, arguing that his limited involvement in appealing the anti-SLAPP motion was insufficient to sustain a malicious prosecution claim. The Court rejected this argument based on the evidence.

Sweetwater Union High School District v. Gilbane Building Co.
California Supreme Court, 2019
6 Cal.5th 931, 243 Cal.Rptr.3d 880, 434 P.3d 1152

Taus v. Loftus
California Supreme Court, 2007
40 Cal.4th 683, 54 Cal.Rptr.3d 775. 151 P.3d 1185

Nicole Taus sued defendant authors for defamation and other torts after a journal published articles relating to a psychologist’s study about her as a child. The California Supreme Court reversed the appellate court on several grounds, but affirmed its finding that Taus could proceed with her claim of improper intrusion into private matters.

While recognizing that it is common practice for reporters to conceal motives in newsgathering, the Court drew a distinction, finding that this protection was not so broad as to allow a person to falsely pose as the colleague of a mental health professional to elicit highly personal information about a subject from the subject’s relative or close friend. While a single claim survived on appeal, the Court awarded costs and fees to defendants because the majority of plaintiff’s claims should have been dismissed under the anti-SLAPP statute.

The Court also expressed reservations about the appellate court’s unequivocal conclusion that Taus was not a limited public figure based on her consent to be the subject of a prominent medical study, and revealing her face and voice in publicly viewed materials.

Varian Medical Systems, Inc. v. Delfino
California Supreme Court, 2005
35 Cal.4th 180, 25 Cal.Rptr.3d 298, 106 P.3d 958

“The perfecting of an appeal from the denial of a special motion to strike automatically stays all further trial court proceedings on the merits upon the causes of action affected by the motion.”

Vargas v. City of Salinas
California Supreme Court, 2009
46 Cal.4th 1, 92 Cal.Rptr.3d 286, 205 P.3d 207

The City of Salinas distributed a newsletter explaining Measure O, a contentious ballot measure that would phase out the city’s utility tax. Supporters of the ballot measure sued the city for expending public funds on the newsletter, claiming it was an impermissible election communication as defined by the Government Code.

The California Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s granting of defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, but based its conclusion on a different standard than the Court of Appeal. The Court clarified that government entities and public officials are entitled to anti-SLAPP protection. The Court concluded that plaintiffs failed to establish a prima facie case that defendants’ conduct was unlawful and affirmed the Court of Appeal’s judgment granting defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion.

Wilson v. Cable News Network, Inc.
California Supreme Court, 2019
7 Cal.5th 871, 249 Cal.Rptr.3d 569, 444 P.3d 706

Wilson v. Parker, Covert & Chidester
California Supreme Court, 2002
28 Cal.4th 811, 123 Cal.Rptr.2d 19, 50 P.3d 733
Note:  Opinion overruled in part by Assembly Bill 1158 (2005), amending Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16(b)(3).

The issue presented is whether, in an action for malicious prosecution, denial of an anti-SLAPP motion in the underlying action establishes that there was probable cause to support the action, thus precluding a suit for malicious prosecution. The court says it does when the denial is predicated on a finding that the action had potential merit.

Zamos v. Stroud California Supreme Court, 2004 32 Cal.4th 958, 12 Cal.Rptr.3d 54, 87 P.3d 802

The tort of malicious prosecution includes continuing to prosecute a lawsuit discovered to lack probable cause. (This decision expands the tort, which previously was limited to commencing an action without probable cause.) Evidence to this effect is sufficient to defeat a special motion to strike a complaint for malicious prosecution.

source

 

SLAPP Cases Decided by the California Courts of Appeal

The following is a list of published SLAPP opinions decided by the California Courts of Appeal and a brief summary of some of them.   Clicking on the name of the case will lead to the text of the opinion.  For most opinions issued on or after April 3, 2013, clicking on the case name will lead to the text of the opinion on Google Scholar.

 

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1-800 Contacts, Inc. v. Steinberg
(2003, 2d District – 107 Cal.App.4th 568, 132 Cal.Rptr.2d 789)
Plaintiff sued Steinberg for business damages, alleging that Steinberg had colluded with plaintiff’s former employee to promote legislative action adverse to plaintiff’s business by facilitating meetings between the former employee and representatives of professional associations. The trial court granted Steinberg’s anti-SLAPP motion to strike the entire complaint on the grounds that the cause of action was conduct “in furtherance of free speech or petition in connection with a public issue” and plaintiff had not demonstrated a probability of prevailing on its complaint, including counts of inducing breach contract and inducing breach of fiduciary duties. The appellate court affirms.
569 East County Boulevard LLC v. Backcountry Against the Dump, Inc.
(2016, 4th District – 6 Cal.App.5th 426, 212Cal.Rptr.3d 304)
(modified 12-29-16)
1100 Park Lane Associates v. Feldman
(2008, 1st District – 160 Cal.App.4th 1467, 74 Cal.Rptr.3d 1)
1550 Laurel Owner’s Assn., Inc. v. Appellate Division of Superior Court
(2018, 2d District – 28 Cal.App.5th 1146, 239 Cal.Rptr.3d 740)

A

Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP v. Lahiji
(2019, 2d District – 40 Cal.App.5th 882, 254 Cal.Rptr.3d 1)
Abuemeira v. Stephens
(2016, 2d District – 246 Cal.App.4th 1291, 201 Cal.Rptr.3d 437)
Albanese v. Menounos
(2013, 2d District – 218 Cal.App.4th 923, 160 Cal.Rptr.3d 546)
Alfaro v. Waterhouse Management
(2022, B313842)
A.F. Brown Electrical Contractor, Inc. v. Rhino Electric Supply, Inc.
(2006, 4th District – 137 Cal.App.4th 1118, 41 Cal.Rptr.3d 1)
Aguilar v. Goldstein
(2012, 2d District – 207 Cal.App.4th 1152, 144 Cal.Rptr3d 238)
All One God Faith, Inc. v. Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards, Inc.
(2010, 1st District – 183 Cal.App.4th 1186, 107 Cal.Rptr.3d 861)
Alpha & Omega Development, LP v. Whillock Contracting, Inc.
(2011, 4th District – 200 Cal.App.4th 656, 132 Cal.Rptr.3d 781)
Alston v. Dawe
(2020, 4th District – 52 Cal.App.5th 706, 267 Cal.Rptr.3d 1)
American Humane Association v. Los Angeles Times Communications
(2001, 2d District – 92 Cal.App.4th 1095, 112 Cal.Rptr.2d 488)
Plaintiff sought declaratory relief to prevent the LA Times from using a confidential internal report about conflicts of interest in the plaintiff organization. The trial court’s denial of a special motion to strike the complaint is reversed. In the published portion of its opinion, the appellate court addresses the question of the timing of a request for attorney fees and costs
(2011, 4th District – 200 Cal. App. 4th 656)
Ampex Corp. v. Cargle
(2005, 1st District – 128 Cal.App.4th 1569, 27 Cal.Rptr.3d 863)
Ampex sued an anonymous Internet poster for defamation and the poster responded with an anti-SLAPP motion. Once the poster was identified as Cargle, Ampex dismissed the suit and refiled the action in New York. The appellate court in an earlier opinion ruled that the trial court had jurisdiction to rule on the anti-SLAPP motion even after dismissal. In this opinion the court holds that Cargle was the prevailing party in the trial court and was therefore entitled to attorney fees under the anti-SLAPP statute.
Anderson v. Geist
(2015, 4th District – 236 Cal.App.4th 79, 186 Cal.Rptr.3d 286)
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. LT Napa Partners LLC
(2015, 1st District – 234 Cal.App.4th 1270, 184 Cal.Rptr.3d 759)
Annette F. v. Sharon S.
(2004, 4th District – 119 Cal.App.4th 1146, 15 Cal.Rptr.3d 100)
This case arose from highly publicized and controversial litigation concerning the validity of “second-parent” adoptions. The parties were domestic partners. Sharon bore two children by artificial insemination during the relationship. Annette successfully petitioned the court to adopt the first child as a second parent. After the couple separated Annette filed a legal action to adopt the second child. Following that action, Annette sued Sharon for defamation arising from statements made by Sharon in a letter to an advocacy organization. The trial court’s denial of a special motion to strike the complaint is reversed. The trial court ruled that the action arose from constitutionally protected speech but concluded that Annette had established a probability of prevailing on her claim. The appellate court disagrees on the grounds that Annette is a public figure by virtue of the public controversy surrounding the adoption proceedings and cannot prove the actual malice required of public figures alleging defamation.
Anschutz Entertainment Group, Inc. v. Snepp
(2009, 2d District – 164 Cal.App.4th 1108, 79 Cal.Rptr.3d 849)
Antounian v. Louis Vuitton Malletier
(2010, 2d District – 189 Cal.App.4th 438, 117 Cal.Rptr.3d 3)
Applied Business Software, Inc. v. Pacific Mortgage Exchange, Inc.
(2008, 2d District – 138 Cal.App.4th 1307, 42 Cal.Rptr.3d 371)
Area 51 Productions, Inc. v. City of Alameda
(2018, 1st District – 20 Cal.App.5th 581, 229 Cal.Rptr.3d 165)
Area 55, LLC v. Nicholas & Tomasevic, LLP
(2021, 4th District – 61 Cal.App.5th 136, 275 Cal.Rptr.3d 519)
Aron v. WIB Holdings
(2/28/2018, 2d District – 21 Cal.App.5th 1069, 231 Cal.Rptr.3d 1)
Argentieri v. Zuckerberg
(2017, 1st District – 8 Cal.App.5th 768, 214 Cal.Rptr.3d 358)
Armin v. Riverside Community Hospital
(2016, 4th District – 5 Cal.App.5th 810, 210 Cal.Rptr.3d 388)
ARP Pharmacy Services, Inc. v. Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc.
(2006, 2d District – 42 Cal.App.4th 1170, 50 Cal.Rptr.2d 62)
Association for L.A. Deputy Sheriffs v. L.A. Times Communs. LLC
(2015, 2d District – 239 Cal.App.4th 808, 191 Cal.Rptr.3d 564)
Artus v. Gramercy Towers Condominium Assn.
(2022, 1st District – 76 Cal.App.5th 1043, 292 Cal.Rptr.3d 150)
Averill v. Superior Court
(1996, 4th District – 173 Cal.App.4th 1325, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 782)
Averill publicly criticized a plan by a charitable organization to convert a house in her neighborhood into a shelter for battered women. After she attempted to pursuade her employer not to contribute to the charity, the charity sued her for slander solely for her comments to her employer. The lower court’s denial of Averill’s special motion to strike the complaint is reversed. The appellate court holds that comments made in private, if made in connection with a public issue, are protected by the anti-SLAPP statute.

B

Baharian-Mehr v. Smith
(2010, 4th District – 189 Cal.App.4th 265, 117 Cal.Rptr.3d 153)
Bailey v. Brewer
(2011, 2d District – 197 Cal.App.4th 781, 128 Cal. Rptr. 3d 380)
Balla v. Hall
(2021, 4th District – 59 Cal.App.5th 652, 273 Cal.Rptr.3d 695)
Balzaga v. Fox News Network, LLC
(2009, 4th District – 173 Cal.App.4th 1325, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 782)
Barak v. The Quisenberry Law Firm
(2006, 2d District – 135 Cal.App.4th 654, 37 Cal.Rptr.3d 688)
Plaintiff filed a complaint for malicious prosecution against Michael Larivee and the Quisenberry Law Firm. The trial court allowed Larivee to join in the Quisenberry Law Firm’s special motion to strike and granted the motion even though the hearing was held more than 30 days after service. Affirming the lower court’s ruling, the appellate court found the hearing to be timely and held that joinder to a special motion to strike is effective as long as the joining defendant demonstrates that the action arises out of protected First Amendment activity.
Barker v. Fox & Associates
(2015, 1st District – 240 Cal.App.4th 333, 192 Cal.Rptr.3d 511)
Baughn v. Department of Forestry & Fire Protection
(2016, 3d District – 246 Cal.App.4th 328, 200 Cal.Rptr.3d 764)
Beach v. Harco National Insurance Co.
(2003, 3d District – 110 Cal.App.4th 82, 1 Cal.Rptr.3d 454)
Plaintiff sued his insurer, alleging bad faith in handling his claim because of delay. The company filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint, arguing that, because the claim was eventually submitted to arbitration, the company’s processing of the claim was an exercise of its right of petition under the First Amendment and therefore protected by both the anti-SLAPP statute and the “litigation privilege” (Civil Code § 47(b)). The trial court denied the motion and the appellate court affirms. According to the court, the cause of action lies in nonaction and delays, not in any specific statement or writing by the company, and none of this conduct involved the company’s right of petition. Moreover, “the fact that a dispute exists that might ultimately lead to arbitration does not make every step in that dispute part of a right to petition.”
Behunin v. Superior Court
(2017, 2d District – 9 Cal.App.5th 833, 215 Cal.Rptr.3d 475)
Beilenson v. Superior Court
(1996, 
2d District – 44 Cal.App.4th 944, 52 Cal.Rptr.2d 357)
Beilenson defeated Sybert in an election for U.S. Congress. After the election Sybert sued Beilenson, a campaign worker, a consulting firm, and a campaign committee, alleging that Beilenson distributed libelous campaign literature. The lower court’s denial of Beilenson’s special motion to strike the complaint is reversed. The appellate court holds that the anti-SLAPP statute protects statements by candidates for public office and their supporters.
Bel Air Internet, LLC v. Morales
(2018, 2d District – 20 Cal.App.5th 924, 230 Cal.Rptr.3d 71)
Belen v. Ryan Seacrest Productions, LLCJune 29, 2021
(2021, Second District – 65 Cal.App.5th 1145, 280 Cal.Rptr.3d 662)
Benasra v. Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP
(2004, 2d District – 123 Cal.App.4th 1179, 20 Cal.Rptr.3d 621)
Benasra sued lawyers who represented his business rival while still representing him, alleging breach of duty of loyalty. The trial court granted defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion. The court reverses, holding that the court’s earlier decision in Jespersen v. Zubiate-Beauchamp — that a claim for legal malpratice is not subject to an anti-SLAPP motion to strike a complaint — applies to a complaint alleging breach of attorney duty of loyalty.
Ben-Shahar v. Pickart
(2014, 2d District – 231 Cal.App.4th 1043, 180 Cal.Rptr.3d 464)
Benitez v. North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group, Inc.
(2003, 4th District – 106 Cal.App.4th 978, 131 Cal.Rptr.2d 364)
While Benitez was being treated for infertility at NCWCMG’s facility, she told her doctor she was a lesbian. Subsequently she encountered difficulties in receiving infertility treatment at NCWCMG. Benitez sued on a variety claims. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, on which the trial court did not rule. On appeal, Benitez argued that the motion is without merit and should be denied. The appellate court refuses to consider the issue on the grounds that there is no appealable order from the trial court.
Bently Reserve LP v. Papaliolios
(2013, 1st District – 218 Cal.App.4th 418, 160 Cal.Rptr.3d 423)
Benton v. Benton
(2019, 4th District – 39 Cal.App.5th 212, 252 Cal.Rptr.3d 118)
Bergman v. Drum
(2005, 2d District – 129 Cal.App.4th 11, 28 Cal.Rptr.3d 112)
Bergman sued attorney Drum for malicious prosecution of a case against her, and in response Drum filed an anti-SLAPP motion. The motion was denied and then affirmed in an earlier appeal, in which the appellate court concluded that Bergman had demonstrated a likelihood of prevailing on her claim. Thereafter the trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant. In this appeal the court holds that the doctrine of the law of the case precluded summary judgment for the defendant because summary judgement was inconsistent with the appellate court’s previous ruling concerning the anti-SLAPP motion.
Bergstein v. Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
(2015, 2d District – 236 Cal.App.4th 793, 187 CAl.Rptr.3d 36)
Bernardo v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America
(2004, 4th District – 115 Cal.App.4th 322, 9 Cal.Rptr.3d 197)
Plaintiffs sued Planned Parenthood under California’s Unfair Competition Law (Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq.), alleging that its websites contained “unlawful, unfair, confusing, and misleading statements” concerning abortion, and seeking injunctive relief. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which was granted by the trial court after plaintiffs were unable to show a reasonable probability of prevailing on their claims for injunctive relief. On appeal, plaintiffs argued that the state’s anti-SLAPP statute is unconstitutional on its face. The appellate court rejects all of plaintiffs’ arguments and affirms the order granting the anti-SLAPP motion.
Bernstein v. LaBeouf
(2019, 2d District – 43 Cal.App.5th 15, 257 Cal.Rptr.3d 173)
Bikkina v. Mahadevan
(2015, 1st District – 241 Cal.App.4th 70, 193 Cal.Rptr.3d 499)
Birkner v. Lam
(2007, 1st District – 156 Cal.App.4th 275, 67 Cal.Rptr.3d 190)
Blackburn v. Brady
(2004, 4th District – 116 Cal.App.4th 460, 10 Cal.Rptr.3d 696)
Blackburn obtained an undivided one-half interest in property co-owned by Brady and his partner Lanser at public auction in partial satisfaction of a money judgment against Lanser. In this action for partition Blackburn also alleges fraud, that Brady and Lanser conspired to drive up the value of the land at auction. Brady filed a special motion to strike the complaint for fraud, arguing that his written bid and any oral statements made at the auction were made in connection with an official proceeding, i.e., Brady’s lawsuit against Lanser, and thus was protected by the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court denied the motion and the appellate court affirms. The court agrees with existing case law that the anti-SLAPP statute does not protect every act having any connection, however remote, with an official proceeding. In order for statements or writings to be protected by the statute they must be made in connection with “an issue under consideration or review” in the proceeding.
Blanchard v. DIRECTV, Inc.
(2004, 2d District – 123 Cal.App.4th 903, 20 Cal.Rptr.3d 385)
DIRECTV sent letters to thousands of people who purchased devices that can pirate DIRECTV’s television signals, demanding that the recipients cease using the devices. Several recipients of these demand letters filed a complaint against DIRECTV, alleging that the mailing of the demand letters was an unfair business practice (Business & Professions Code, § 17200). DIRECTV filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which the trial court granted. The appellate court affirms, holding that the provision of the state’s anti-SLAPP statute that excludes public interest lawsuits does not apply to the plaintiff-purchasers’ action, and DIRECTV is entitled to have the complaint stricken.
Bleavins v. Demarest
(2011, 2d District – 196 Cal. App. 4th 1533, 127 Cal.Rptr.3d 580)
Blue v. Office of Inspector General
(2018, 3d District – 23 Cal.App.5th 138, 232 Cal.Rptr.3d 590)
Bonni v. St. Joseph Health System
(2017, 4th District – 13 Cal.App.5th 851, 220 Cal.Rptr.3d 598)
Bonni v. St. Joseph Health System
(2021, 4th District – 11 Cal.5th 995, 281 Cal. Rptr. 3d 678)
Bonni v. St. Joseph Health System
(2022, 4th District – 83 Cal. App. 5th 288, 298 Cal. Rptr. 3d 730)
Booker v. Rountree
(2007, 4th District – 155 Cal.App.4th 1366, 66 Cal.Rptr.3d 733)
Bowen v. Lin
(2022, 2d District – 80 Cal. App. 5th 155)
Bradbury v. Superior Court
(1996, 2d District – 49 Cal.App.4th 1108, 57 Cal.Rptr.2d 207)
A deputy sheriff shot and killed a citizen during execution of a search warrant. Following an investigation by the district attorney, the deputy was exonerated. However, the DA’s public report of the investigation questioned the veracity of the affidavit supporting the search warrant. The deputy sued the district attorney for slander. The trial court’s denial of the district attorney’s special motion to strike the complaint is reversed. Held: the state’s anti-SLAPP statute applies to public employees who issue reports and comment on issues of public interest relating to their official duties. Moreover, public entities are “persons” for the purpose of the anti-SLAPP statute and thus entitled to recover attorney fees when they prevail on a special motion to strike a complaint.
Branner v. Regents University of California
(2009, 1st District – 175 Cal.App.4th 1043, 96 Cal.Rptr.3d 690)
Braun v. The Chronicle Publishing Co.
(1997, 1st District – 52 Cal.App.4th 1036, 61 Cal.Rptr.2d 58)
Brenton v. Metabolife International, Inc.
(2004, 4th District – 116 Cal.App.4th 679, 10 Cal.Rptr.3d 702)
Brenton sued for product liability and other causes of tort action, alleging that she suffered a psychotic breakdown after using a Metabolife product. She also alleged that Metabolife’s false advertising and misbranding of the product violated the state’s unfair business practices statute (Business & Professions Code § 17200). Metabolife moved to strike the entire complaint as a SLAPP, arguing that Brenton’s complaint targeted protected commercial speech. The trial court denied the motion and the appellate court affirms. According to the court, the specific issue in this case is a recurring one: whether a claim against a manufacturer for physical injury, allegedly caused by use of its product, is subject to the anti-SLAPP statute merely because the manufacturer also engaged in commercial speech to market the product. The court rejects Metabolife’s argument that its labeling and advertising of the product are protected by the anti-SLAPP statute because they constitute, in the statute’s terms, written statements made in a place open to the public in connection with an issue of public interest. In addition, the court holds that the newly enacted Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17 (effective Jan. 1, 2004) expressly removes Brenton’s complaint for unfair business practices from the anti-SLAPP statute’s protection. (Section 425.17 provides that the anti-SLAPP motion to strike a complaint cannot be applied to “any cause of action brought against a person primarily engaged in the business of selling or leasing goods or services, … arising from any statement or conduct by that person,” as long as certain conditions are met.) The court rejects Metabolife’s argument that section 425.17 is unconstitutional because it cannot withstand the strict scrutiny standard articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Central Hudson Gas & Elec. v. Publ. Serv. Comm’n (1980). (See also Martinez v. Metabolife International, Inc., 4th District Court of Appeal (2003); Scott v. Metabolife International, Inc., 3d District Court of Appeal (2004).)
Briganti v. Chow
(2019, 2d District – 42 Cal.App.5th 504, 254 Cal.Rptr.3d 909)
Brighton Collectibles, LLC v. Hockey
(2021, 2nd District – 65 Cal.App.5th 99, 279 Cal.Rptr.3d 518)
Brill Media Co., LLC v. TCW Group, Inc.
(2005, 2d District – 132 Cal.App.4th 324, 33 Cal.Rptr.3d 371)
74 affiliated media companies sued defendant bond holders and their related entities for breach of contract and interference with economic relations, alleging defendants caused the default of and liquidation of plaintiffs’ entities by breaching confidentiality agreements and interfering with pending contracts. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which the trial court granted. The appellate court reversed, concluding plaintiffs’ claims arose out of commercial speech and conduct and therefore fell under the Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17 exemption to the anti-SLAPP statute. Judge Bosk dissented.
Britts v. Superior Court
(2006, 6th District -145 Cal.App.4th 1112, 52 Cal.Rptr.3d 185)
Brodeur v. Atlas Entertainment, Inc.
(2016, 2d District – 248 Cal.App.4th 665, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 483)
Brown v. Grimes
(2011, 2d District – 192 Cal.App.4th 265, 120 Cal.Rptr.3d 893)
Burrill v. Nair
(2013, 3d District – 217 Cal.App.4th 357, 158 Cal.Rptr.3d 332)

C

C.W. Howe Partners Inc. v. Mooradian
(2019, 2d District – 43 Cal.App.5th 688, 256 Cal.Rptr.3d 806)
Cabral v. Martins
(2009, 1st District – 177 Cal.App.4th 471, 99 Cal. Rptr.3d 394)
California Back Specialists Medical Group v. Rand
(2008, 2d District – 160 Cal.App.4th 1032, 73 Cal.Rptr.3d 268)
Callanan v. GRIZZLY DESIGNS, LLC
(June 29, 2022, C094008)
Carpenter & Zuckerman, LLP  v. Cohen
(2011, 2d District – 195 Cal.App.4th 373, Cal.Rptr.3d)
Carpenter v. Jack in the Box Corp.
(2007, 2d District – 151 Cal.App.4th 454, 59 Cal.Rptr.3d 839)
Carver v. Bonds
(2005, 1st District – 169 Cal.App.4th 328, 37 Cal.Rptr.3d 480) 
Plaintiff podiatrist sued baseball player, reporters, and newspaper for defamation arising from statements in a newspaper article. Defendants’ anti-SLAPP motions were granted; plaintiff appealed. The appellate court affirmed, concluding that stating facts and opinions about plaintiff was plainly “conduct in furtherance of the exercise of … [defendants’] constitutional right[s] of free speech” within the meaning of Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, subdivision (e)(4); and since the statements served as a warning against plaintiff’s method of self-promotion, and were provided along with other information to assist patients in choosing doctors, the statements involved a matter of public concern. Furthermore, because plaintiff could not prove falsity, and because some of the newspaper’s statements were privileged, he did not demonstrate a probability of prevailing on his claims.
Castillo v. Pacheco
(2007, 2d District – 150 Cal.App.4th 242, 58 Cal.Rptr.3d 305)
Castleman v. Sagaser
(2013, 5th District – 216 Cal.App.4th 481, 156 Cal.Rptr.3d 492)
Catlin Ins. Co., Inc. v. Danko Meredith Law Firm, Inc.
(2022, 1st District – 73 Cal.App.5th 764, 288 Cal.Rptr.3d 773)
Central Valley Hospitalists v. Dignity Health
(2018, 1st District – 19 Cal.App.5th 203, 227 Cal.Rptr.3d 848)
Century21 v. Haberman
(2009, 4th District – 173 Cal.App.4th 1, 92 Cal.Rptr.3d 249)
Chabak v. Monroy
(2007, 5th District – 140 Cal.App.4th 821, 44 Cal.Rptr.3d 777)
Chaker v. Mateo
(2012, 4th District – 209 Cal.App.4th 1138, 147 Cal.Rptr.3d 496)
Chambers v. Miller
(2006, 4th District – 94 Cal.App.4th 1083, 114 Cal.Rptr.2d 825)
Changsha Metro Group Co., Ltd. v. Peng Xufeng
(2020, 4th District – 57 Cal.App.5th 1, 270 Cal.Rptr.3d 853)
Charney v. Standard General, L.P.
(2017, 2d District – 10 Cal.App.5th 149, 215 Cal.Rptr.3d 889)
Chavez v. Mendoza
(2001, 4th District – 148 Cal.App.4th 71, 55 Cal.Rptr.3d 600)
Mendoza sued an insurance company and its agents, Richard and Ina Chavez, asserting numerous contract and tort claims. All claims but one were dismissed. Subsequently the Chavezes sued Mendoza for malicious prosecution. Mendoza moved to strike the complaint as a SLAPP. The trial court ruled that a malicious prosecution complaint was not subject to the state’s anti-SLAPP statute. The appellate court reversed the ruling, holding that a malicious prosecution complaint is subject to a special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute. However, the court also concluded that the Chavezes had demonstrated a probability of prevailing on their complaint and therefore affirmed the trial court’s denial of Mendoza’s special motion to strike the complaint.
Cheveldave v. Tri Palms Unified Owners Assn.
(2018, 4th District – 27 Cal.App.5th 1202, 238 Cal.Rptr.3d 792)
Chitsazzadeh v. Kramer & Kaslow
(2011, 2d District – 199 Cal.App.4th 676, 130 Cal.Rptr.3d 910)
Cho v. Chang
(2013, 2d District – 219 Cal.App.4th 521, 161 Cal.Rptr.3d 846)
Chodos v. Cole
(2012, 2d District – 210 Cal.App.4th 692, 148 Cal.Rptr.3d 451)
Christian Research Institute v. Alnor (“Alnor I”)
(2007, 4th District – 165 Cal.App.4th 1315, 81 Cal.Rptr.3d 866)
Christian Research Institute v. Alnor (“Alnor II”)
(2008, 4th District – 81 Cal.Rptr.3d 866)
Church of Scientology of California v. Wollersheim
(1996, 2d District – 42 Cal.App.4th 628, 49 Cal.Rptr.2d 620)
The Church of Scientology filed a lawsuit seeking to vacate a multimillion dollar judgment against it, in favor of our client, Lawrence Wollersheim. This was part of extensive and drawn-out litigation (lasting 15 years) between Scientology and Wollersheim. The trial court granted Wollersheim’s anti-SLAPP motion, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that the anti-SLAPP statute applies to causes of action arising from any act in furtherance of the right of petition, such as Wollersheim’s original successful lawsuit, regardless of the subject matter. More than $428,000 in fees were awarded.
Citizens of Humanity, LLC v. Hass
(2020, 4th District – 46 Cal.App.5th 589, 259 Cal.Rptr.3d 380)
Citizens of Humanity, LLC v. Ramirez
(2021, 2d District – 63 Cal.App.5th 117, 277 Cal.Rptr.3d 501)
City of Alhambra v. D’Ausilio
(2011, 2d District – 193 Cal.App.4th 1301, 123 Cal.Rptr.3d 142)
City of Costa Mesa v. D’Alessio Investments, LLC
(2013, 4th District – 214 Cal.App.4th 358, 154 Cal.Rptr.3d 698)
City of Industry v. City of Fillmore
(2011, 2d District – 198 Cal.App.4th 191, 129 Cal.Rptr.3d 433)
City of Long Beach v. California Citizens for Neighborhood Empowerment
(2003, 2d District – 111 Cal.App.4th 302, 3 Cal.Rptr.3d 473)
City filed a civil complaint against CCNE, alleging violations of the municipal code concerning campaign contributions. The trial court granted defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint, holding that the “prosecutorial exemption” in the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply to the complaint and the city had not demonstrated that it was likely to prevail on the complaint. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that the prosecutorial exemption — “enforcement actions brought in the name of the people of the State of California” — applies to civil actions by cities enforcing municipal law. According to the court, the legislative history of the statute indicates a broader intent behind the exemption than is evident from the specific wording. (See also People v. Health Laboratories of North America, Inc., 1st District Court of Appeal, and People ex rel. Lockyer v. Brar, 4th District Court of Appeal.)
City of Los Angeles v. Animal Defense League
(2006, 2d District – 135 Cal.App.4th 606, 37 Cal.Rptr.3d 632)
The City of Los Angeles, on behalf of two of its employees, filed petitions seeking workplace violence protective orders under Code of Civil Procedure section 527.8 against animal rights activists. Defendants filed anti-SLAPP motions which the trial court denied, holding that the petitions were exempt as public entity enforcement actions under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16(d).The Court of Appeal reversed, finding that the exemption did not apply because the City filed the petitions as “employer” and not in its capacity as “public prosecutor” the petitions arose from protected free speech activity; and the City failed to demonstrate a probability it would prevail on its claims because (1) the protective orders under section 527.8 can only be brought against natural persons (not ADL), and (2) the City presented no evidence that individual defendant Ferdin conveyed a credible threat of violence in the workplace.
City of Riverside v. Stansbury
(2007, 4th District – 155 Cal.App.4th 1582, 66 Cal.Rptr.3d 862)
City of San Diego v. Dunkl
(2001, 4th District – 86 Cal.App.4th 384, 103 Cal.Rptr.2d 269)
The City and the partnership that owns the San Diego Padres baseball team filed preemptive suits against proponents of a ballot initiative that would have made certain negative findings concerning an earlier city ordinance that authorized funds for construction of a downtown ballpark. Plaintiffs argued that the initiative was invalid and should not be placed on the ballot even if adequate signatures were obtained because the initiative sought to enact measures that were beyond the power of hte voters to adopt. Defendants filed a special motion to strike. The trial court granted summary judgment and ruled that in consequence the SLAPP motion was moot. The appellate court affirms. “Where . . . declaratory relief actions present purely legal questions about the validity of the subject matter of the lawsuits, . . . the SLAPP issue of whether the plaintiffs are more probably than not going to prevail in their actions may appropriately be determined by the use of related summary judgment proceedings.”
City of Santa Monica v. Stewart
(2005, 2d District – 126 Cal.App.4th 43, 24 Cal.Rptr.3d 72)
Several lawsuits were brought concerning enforcement of initiatives approved by voters in Santa Monica and Pasadena. The initiatives sought to prevent city officials from receiving certain advantages from persons or entities who benefited from decisions made by those officials. Pasadena officials refused to certify the initiative on the grounds that they believed it was unconstitutional. A Pasadena resident filed a petition for a writ of mandate to require the city to certify the initiative; the initiative’s sponsor was granted leave to intervene. The city filed a cross-complaint against the sponsor seeking a judicial declaration that the city had no duty to certify the initiative under the law. The sponsor filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the cross-complaint, which the trial court denied. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that the cause of action in the cross-complaint arose from protected First Amendment activity and the city was not able to demonstrate the required probability of succeeding on the cross-complaint.
CKE Restaurants, Inc. v. Moore
(2008, 2d District – 159 Cal.App.4th 262, 70 Cal.Rptr.3d 921)

Clarity Co. Consulting v. Gabriel
(2022, 2d District – 77 Cal.App.5th 454, 292 Cal.Rptr.3d 532)

Clark v. Mazgani
(2009, 2d District – 170 Cal.App.4th 1280, 89 Cal.Rptr.3d 24)
Club Members for an Honest Election v. Sierra Club
(2006, 1st District – 137 Cal.App.4th 1166, 40 Cal.Rptr.3d 818)
Note! Opinion superseded by California Supreme Court’s granting of petition for review on June 21, 2006 (S143087).Plaintiffs filed suit against Sierra Club, alleging improper distribution of information during an election to the Club’s board of directors. The trial court granted Sierra Club’s anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court affirmed in part and reversed in part. It reversed as to three causes of action which it found were exempt under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17(b) as a public interest action. It also found that one cause of action was not exempt under section 425.17(b) because the claim “seeks relief pertaining specifically to [two named directors] … [and] the gravamen of a cause of action seeking relief of such a personal kind does not satisfy the public interest criterion of the exemption of § 425.17.” The court found that the claim arose from acts protected by the First Amendment in connection with a public issue, and that the uncontested summary judgment in favor of defendant conclusively established that plaintiff had no probability of prevailing.
Cohen v. Brown
(2009, 2d District – 173 Cal.App.4th 302, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 24)
Cole v. Patricia A. Meyer & Associates, APC
(2012, 2d District – 206 Cal.App.4th 1095, 142 Cal.Rptr.3d 646)
Collier v. Harris
(2015, 4th District – 240 Cal.App.4th 41, 192 Cal.Rptr.3d 31)
Collondrez v. City of Rio Vista
(2021, 1st District – 61 Cal.App.5th 1039, 275 Cal.Rptr.3d 895)
Colt v. Freedom Communications, Inc.
(2003, 4th District – 109 Cal.App.4th 1551, 1 Cal.Rptr.3d 245)
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Colt for “an illegal scheme to manipulate the price of four stocks.” Colt responded to the SEC action by stipulating to a consent decree. After Freedom Communications published stories about the SEC allegations, Colt sued for defamation and other damages. The trial court granted defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint, and the appellate court affirms. The court concluded that, because defendant is immune from liability for the articles under Civil Code section 47 and plaintiff had not offered credible evidence of actual malice, plaintiff had not established a probability of prevailing on the complaint as required by the anti-SLAPP statute.
Coltrain v. Shewalter
(2003, 4th District – 66 Cal.App.4th 94, 77 Cal.Rptr.2d 600)
Our clients, the neighbors of an apartment complex, filed nuisance actions in small claims court against the owners of the complex, after unsuccessful attempts to abate alleged criminal activity and harassment by residents of the complex. In retaliation, the owners of the complex sued our clients for trade libel, defamation, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. After our clients filed an anti-SLAPP motion, the plaintiffs dismissed their complaint. The Court of Appeal found that our clients were targets of a SLAPP and were entitled to recover our attorneys fees, even though the plaintiffs dismissed the complaint.
Colyear v. Rolling Hills Community Assn. of Rancho Palos Verdes
(2017, 2d District – 9 Cal.App.5th 119, 214 Cal.Rptr.3d 767)
Commonwealth Energy Corp. v. Investor Data Exchange, Inc.
(2003, 4th District – 110 Cal.App.4th 26, 1 Cal.Rpr.3d 390)
Commonwealth Energy gave Investor Data a list of Commonwealth’s shareholders. After Investor Data used the list to market its services to the shareholders, Commonwealth sued for a variety of business-related causes of action. Investor Data filed an anti-SLAPP motion, denied by the trial court. The appellate court affirms. The court points out that, because the speech alleged to be the cause of action (Investor Data’s pitch to Commonwealth’s investors) did not occur within an official proceeding, the decision whether Investor Data’s statements are protected by the anti-SLAPP statute depends entirely on whether the statements were made in connection with a public issue (following the standard announced by the California Supreme Court in Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity). The court holds that a sales pitch for a commercial service does not qualify as a public issue for purposes of the anti-SLAPP statute. (See the earlier case, Rivero v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, 1st District Court of Appeal.)
ComputerXpress, Inc. v. Jackson
(2001, 4th District – 93 Cal.App.4th 993, 113 Cal.Rptr.2d 625)
After a failed attempt at merger between ComputerXpress and a business owned by defendants, defendants posted statements about ComputerXpress on the internet and filed a complaint against ComputerXpress with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). ComputerXpress sued, alleging in nine causes of action that defendants had conspired to damage its reputation and cause it economic harm. The trial court denied defendants’ motion to strike the entire complaint on the grounds that none of the causes of action fell under the anti-SLAPP statute. The appellate court noted that the nine causes of action were based on three distinct sets of facts: (1) statements made in private business transactions, (2) the internet postings, and (3) the SEC complaint. The court concluded that statements made in the internet postings and SEC complaint fell under the anti-SLAPP statute, whereas the statements made in private business transactions did not. Accordingly, the court remanded the case to the trial court to determine whether plaintiff can demonstrate a probability of prevailing on the causes of action subject to the anti-SLAPP statute. In addition, the court ruled that defendants should be considered the prevailing party on the SLAPP motion, notwithstanding their partial success, and thus are entitled to attorney fees and costs incurred by the motion.
Comstock v. Aber
(2013, 1st District – 212 Cal.App.4th 931)
Lisa Aber filed a claim of sexual harassment and battery against her employer and two of its employees. One of those employees filed a cross-complaint against Aber, alleging claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court granted Aber’s anti-SLAPP motion and dismissed the cross-complaint. The Court of Appeal affirmed. In its decision, the Court of Appeal held that Aber’s statements to the police, a nurse, and the employer’s HR manager were all protected under the anti-SLAPP law, as statements made in, or in connection with matters under review by, an official proceeding or body, and that the cross-complainant had not shown that his claims had any merit. Cross-complainant appealed the trial court’s award of $62,299.60 for Aber’s attorneys’ fees and costs, but that appeal was later dismissed.
Conroy v. Spitzer
(1999, 4th District – 70 Cal.App.4th 1446, 83 Cal.Rptr.2d 443)
A candidate for public office sued his rival, alleging defamation in the rival’s campaign statements. The appellate court upholds the trial court’s granting of a special motion to strike the complaint. Plaintiff was a public figure and thus required to prove malice to prevail on a claim of defamation; he failed to demonstrate to the court’s satisfaction a probability of prevailing on his claim, as required to defeat the special motion.
Consumer Justice Center v. Trimedica International, Inc.
(2003, 4th District – 107 Cal.App.4th 595, 132 Cal.Rptr.2d 191)
Consumer and consumer advocate sued a manufacturer of herbal supplements, alleging false advertising and other causes of action for the company’s claim that its herbal supplement enlarged women’s breasts. The appellate court affirms the trial court’s denial of the company’s special motion to strike the complaint. Defendant had not shown that its commercial speech was protected by the state’s anti-SLAPP statute and in any event plaintiffs had demonstrated a probability of prevailing on their claims.
Contemporary Services Corp. v. Staff Pro Inc.
(2007, 4th District – 152 Cal.App.4th 1043, 61 Cal.Rptr.3d 434)
Contreras v. Dowling
(2016, 1st District – 5 Cal.App.5th 394, 208 Cal.Rptr.3d 707)
Copenbarger v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism
(2013, 4th District – 215 Cal.App.4th 1237, 156 Cal.Rptr.3d 70)
Coretronic Corporation et al. v. Cozen O’Connor et al.
(2011, 2d District – 192 Cal.App.4th 1381, 121 Cal.Rptr.3d 254
County of Riverside v. Public Employment Relations Bd.
(2016, 4th District – 246 Cal.App.4th 20, 200 Cal.Rptr.3d 573)
Cross v. Cooper
(2011, 6th District – 197 Cal. App. 4th 357; 127 Cal. Rptr. 3d 903)
Cross v. Facebook, Inc.
(2017, 1st District – 14 Cal.App.5th 190, 222 Cal.Rptr.3d 250)
Crossroads Investors, L.P. v. Federal National Mortgage Association
(2017, 3d District – 13 Cal.App.5th 757, 222 Cal.Rptr.3d 1)
Cruz v. City of Culver City
(2016, 2d District – 2 Cal.App.5th 239, 205 Cal.Rptr.3d 736)
Cuevas-Martinez v. Sun Salt Sand, Inc.
(2019, 4th District – 35 Cal.App.5th 1109, 248 Cal.Rptr.3d 200)Curtin Maritime Corp. v. Pacific Dredge & Construction, LLC
(2022, 4th District – 76 Cal.App.5th 651, 291 Cal.Rptr.3d 639)

D

D’Arrigo Bros. of California v. United Farmworkers of America
(2014, 6th District – 224 Cal.App.4th 790, 169 Cal.Rptr.3d 171)
D.C. v. R.R.
(2010, 2d District – 182 Cal.App.4th 1190, 106 Cal.Rptr.3d 399)
Dae v. Traver
(2021, 2nd District, Division 2 – 69 Cal.App.5th 447, 284 Cal.Rptr.3d 495)
Daimler Chrysler Motors Co. v. Lew Williams, Inc.
(2006, 3d District – 142 Cal.App.4th 344, 48 Cal.Rptr.2d 233)
Damon v. Ocean Hills Journalism Club
(2000, 4th District – 85 Cal.App.4th 468, 102 Cal.Rptr.2d 205)
The appellate court upholds the trials court’s granting of a special motion to strike the complaint. Held: The anti-SLAPP statutes applies to allegedly defamatory statements made at meetings of a homeowners association and in the association’s newsletter because both forums were open to the public and the defendants’ statements “concerned the manner in which a large residential community would be governed.”
Daniel v. Wayans
(2017, 2d District – 8 Cal.App.5th 367, 213Cal.Rptr.3d 865)
Daniels v. Robbins
(2010, 4th District – 182 Cal.App.4th 204, 105 Cal.Rptr.3d 223)
Dean v. Friends of Pine Meadow
(2018, 1st District – ___ Cal.App.5th ___, 229 Cal.Rptr.3d 865)
DeCambre v. Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego
(2015, 4th District – 235 Cal.App.4th 1, 184 Cal.Rptr.3d 888)
(modification, 4-2-15)
Decker v. The U.D. Registry, Inc.
(2003, 4th District – 105 Cal.App.4th 1382, 129 Cal.Rptr.2d 892)
Note:  Opinion overruled by Assembly Bill 1158 (2005), amending Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16.
UDR is a consumer reporting agency that gathers and sells information about unlawful detainer cases. Several tenants, after unsuccessfully attempting to have UDR amend information about them in UDR’s records, sued UDR, alleging negligence, defamation, and other acts. The trial court denied UDR’s anti-SLAPP motions to strike the complaints, finding that the motions were frivolous. The appellate court affirms on the grounds that UDR’s motions did not meet the requirement in the anti-SLAPP statute for notice of a hearing no later than 30 days after service of the motion. (See also Schoendorf v. U.D. Registry, Inc. (2002).)
de Havilland v. FX Networks, LLC
(2018, 2d District – 21 Cal.App.5th 845, 230 Cal.Rptr.3d 625)
Delois v. Barrett Block Partners
(2009, 1st District – 177 Cal.App.4th 940, 99 Cal.Rptr.3d 609)
Demetriades v. Yelp, Inc
(2014, 2d District – 228 Cal.App.4th 294, 175 Cal.Rptr.3d 131)
Dept. of Fair Employment & Housing v. 1105 Alta Loma Road Apartments, LLC
(2007, 2d District – 154 Cal.App.4th 1273, 65 Cal.Rptr.3d 349)
Dible v. Haight Ashbury Free Clinics
(2009,1st District – 170 Cal.App.4th 843, 88 Cal.Rptr.3d 464)
Dickens v. Provident Life & Accident Insurance Co.
(2004, 2d District – 117 Cal.App.4th 705, 11 Cal.Rptr.3d 877)
Dickens was charged in criminal court with defrauding Provident by submitting false claims that he was disabled. Dickens was acquitted by a jury. He then sued Provident, alleging malicious prosecution and other causes of action. The trial court granted defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court affirms, holding that a malicious prosecution claim based on termination of a criminal prosecution in plaintiff’s favor is subject to the anti-SLAPP statute. The court concludes that Dickens failed to establish a prima facie case of liability for malicious prosecution because he offered no evidence that defendant was instrumental in the criminal prosecution against Dickens.
Dickinson v. Cosby I
(2017, 2d District – 17 Cal.App.5th 655, 225 Cal.Rptr.3d 430)
Dickinson v. Cosby II
(2019, 2d District – 37 Cal.App.5th 1138, 250 Cal.Rptr.3d 350)
Digerati Holdings, LLC v. Young Money Entertainment, LLC
(2011, 2d District- 194 Cal.App.4th 873, 123 Cal.Rptr.3d 736)
Direct Shopping Network, LLC v. James
(2012, 2d District – 206 Cal.App.4th 1551, 143 Cal.Rptr.3d 1)
Dixon v. Superior Court
(1994, 4th District – 30 Cal.App.4th 733, 36 Cal.Rptr.2d 687)
Surveyor brought an action against a university professor, alleging interference with economic relationships, libel, slander, and trade libel arising from statements critical of the surveyor’s report regarding a proposed development at the university. The statements were made during the public review period following issuance of a negative declaration under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The lower court’s denial of a special motion to strike the complaint is reversed.
Doe v. Luster
(2006, 2d District – 145 Cal.App.4th 139, 51 Cal.Rptr.3d 403)
Doe v. McLaughlin
(September 21, 2022, No. A161534)
Doe v. State of California
(2017, 4th District – 8 Cal.App.5th 832, 214 Cal.Rptr.3d 391)
John Doe 2 v. Superior Court
(2016, 2d District – 1 Cal.App.5th 1300, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 60)
Donovan v. Dan Murphy Foundation
(2012, 2d District – 204 Cal.App.4th 1500, 140 Cal.Rptr.3d 71)
Dorit v. Noe
(2020, 1st District – 49 Cal.App.5th 458, 263 Cal.Rptr.3d 98)
Dougherty v. Haag
(2008, 4th District – 165 Cal.App.4th 315, 81 Cal.Rptr.3d 1)
Dove Audio, Inc. v. Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman
(1996, 2d District – 47 Cal.App.4th 777, 54 Cal.Rptr.2d 830)
A recording company sued a law firm for defamation for alleging the company had failed to pay royalties to charities designated by celebrities who had made a recording. The lower court’s granting of the defendants’ special motion to strike the complaint is affirmed. The law firm’s letter to celebrities who had participated in the recording is protected from defamation liability under Civil Code section 47 as a communication preliminary to an official proceeding. Defendants’ appellate attorney fees are recoverable as part of attorney fees authorized by the anti-SLAPP statute.
Dowling v. Zimmerman
(2001, 4th District – 85 Cal.App.4th 1400, 103 Cal.Rptr.2d 174)
Landlord sued attorney who represented tenants in unlawful detainer action for defamation, misrepresentation, and infliction of emotional distress. The appellate court affirms the trial court’s granting of a special motion to strike the complaints. The anti-SLAPP statute applies because the cause of action is statements made in connection with a pending unlawful detainer action, statements that arguably involved public issues of nuisance and safety (defendant stated that someone had twice entered a locked garage and turned off the dial of the tenants’ water heater). Plaintiff’s complaint was pleaded without the requisite specificity and defendant’s statements were privileged under Civil Code section 47(b). The court of appeal also stated that the provision in the anti-SLAPP law for attorney fees must be construed broadly, that a pro per defendant could collect fees under anti-SLAPP law for assistance from retained anti-SLAPP counsel, and that defendant could proceed to collect fee award even though plaintiff had appealed it, unless plaintiff posted a bond.
Drell v. Cohen
(2014, 2d District – 232 Cal.App.4th 24, 181 Cal.Rptr.3d 191)
Drum v. Bleau, Fox & Associates
(2003, 2d District – 107 Cal.App.4th 1009, 132 Cal.Rptr.2d 602)
Bleau Fox, a law firm, won a legal malpractice action against Drum and his law firm in a jury trial. Although the judge stayed the judgment pending notice of appeal, Bleau Fox immediately filed a levy against Drum’s bank account. Drum then filed a complaint against Bleau Fox for abuse of process. The trial court granted defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that Drum had established a prima facie case and the action is not barred by the litigation privilege (Civil Code section 47(b)).
Drummond v. Desmarais
(2009, 6th District – 176 Cal.App.4th 439, 98 Cal.Rptr.3d 394)
Du Charme v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 45
(2003, 1st District – 110 Cal.App.4th 107, 1 Cal.Rptr.3d 501)
After he was terminated as assistant business manager for a union, the union’s trustee posted a statement on the Internet that Du Charme had been fired for “financial mismanagement”. Du Charme sued the trustee and the union on a variety of complaints. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which the trial court denied on the grounds that the statement posted on the Internet was not made in connection with any official proceeding and did not concern a public issue, as required by the anti-SLAPP statute. The appellate court affirms, emphasizing that a statement must concern an issue of widespread public interest to qualify for protection of the anti-SLAPP statute. “[M]ere publication … should not turn otherwise private information … into a matter of public interest.”
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center, Inc. v. Buschel
(2016, 4th District – 6 Cal.App.5th 1098, 212 Cal Rptr 3d 75)
Dunning v. Clews
(2021, 4th District – 64 Cal.App.5th 156, 278 Cal.Rptr.3d 607)
Dunning v. Johnson
(April 23, 2021, D076570)
DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co. v. Superior Court
(2000, 4th District – 78 Cal.App.4th 562, 92 Cal.Rptr.2d 755)
A class action was filed against DuPont, claiming damages on behalf of purchasers of a drug manufactured by DuPont and alleging that DuPont made false statements before regulatory bodies, the medical profession, and the public regarding the drug. DuPont filed a special motion to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute. The motion was denied by the trial court. The appellate court determined that the remarks complained of were “acts in furtherance of the person’s [DuPont’s] right of petition or free speech” protected by the anti-SLAPP statute and remanded the case to the trial court to determine whether plaintiff could demonstrate a probability of prevailing on its claims, as required by the statute. (See also Vess v. Ciba-Geigy Corp., 9th Circuit Court of Appeal.)
Dwight R. v. Christy B.
(2013, 4th District – 212 Cal.App.4th 697, 151 Cal.Rptr.3d 406)
Dyer v. Childress
(2007, 2d District – 147 Cal.App.4th 1273, 55 Cal.Rptr.3d 544)
Dziubla v. Piazza
(2020, 4th District – 59 Cal.App.5th 140, 273 Cal.Rptr.3d 297)

E

Edward v. Ellis
(December 14, 2021, G059523)

Ellis Law Group, LLP v. Nevada City Sugar Loaf Properties, LLC
(2014, 3d District – 230 Cal.App.4th 244, 178 Cal.Rptr.3d 490)
Endres v. Moran
(2006, 2d District – 135 Cal.App.4th 952, 37 Cal.Rptr.3d 786)
Plaintiffs sued, claiming defendants had committed various torts as part of a wrongful attempt to control a church. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which the trial court granted for only one of the eleven causes of action (for conspiracy). The trial court denied defendants’ motion for attorneys fees and defendants appealed. The appellate court affirmed, finding that the results of the anti-SLAPP motion were so minimal and insignificant that the case remained essentially the same, and the defendants were not prevailing parties, justifying the lower court’s ruling that defendants should not recover fees.
Ericsson GE Mobile Communications, Inc. v. C.S.I. Telecommunications Engineers
(1996, 1st District – 49 Cal.App.4th 1591, 57 Cal.Rptr.2d 491)
Note:  Opinon disapproved by the California Supreme Court in Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity.Ericsson sued a consultant who recommended another company’s proposal to supply and install a communications system for Ventura County, alleging that the consultant intentionally misrepresented the merits of Ericsson’s proposal. The trial court’s granting of a special motion to strike the complaint is reversed. The appellate court concludes that the consultant’s report was prepared in fulfillment of a contract, not for the purpose of speaking out on a public issue (expenditure of public funds).
Evans v. Unkow
(1995, 1st District – 38 Cal.App.4th 1490, 45 Cal.Rptr.2d 624)
A former public official sued individuals who had filed a notice of petition to recall him from office, alleging that statements made in the notice were defamatory. The court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the action, and held that evidence opposing a special motion to strike a complaint must be admissible and declarations may generally not be based on information or belief.

F

Fair Political Practices Commission v. American Civil Rights Coalition, Inc.
(2004, 3d District – 121 Cal.App.4th 1171, 18 Cal.Rptr.3d 157)
Note: Opinion overruled by Assembly Bill 1158 (2005), amending Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. The trial court denied defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion because it was not heard within 30 days after service of the motion and defendants did not establish that the court’s docket conditions required a later hearing, as required by the state’s anti-SLAPP statute. The appellate court affirms.
Falcon Brands, Inc. v. Mousavi & Lee, LLP
(2022, 4th District – 74 Cal.App.5th 506, 289 Cal.Rptr.3d 521)
Fashion 21 v. Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
(2004, 2d District – 117 Cal.App.4th 1138, 12 Cal.Rptr.3d 493)
A seller of women’s apparel filed an action for defamation against the Coalition, a nonprofit organization, alleging that defendants falsely claimed it was responsible for “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in unpaid wages due its workers. The trial court denied defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, ruling that Fashion 21 had established a probability of prevailing on its complaint. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a probability of proving the falsity of defendants’ statements about unpaid wages. See companion case Garment Workers Center v. Superior Court.
FilmOn.com v. DoubleVerify, Inc.
(2017, 2d District – 13 Cal.App.5th 707, 221 Cal.Rptr.3d 539)
Finato v. Keith A. Fink & Associates
(2021, 2nd District – 68 Cal.App.5th 136, 283Cal.Rptr.3d 22)
Finton Construction, Inc. v. Bidna & Keys, APLC
(2015, 4th District – 238 Cal.App.4th 200, 190 Cal.Rptr.3d 1)
Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. v. Paladino
(2001, 2d District – 89 Cal.App.4th 294, 106 Cal.Rptr.2d 906)
After learning that Paladino planned to sue Fox for wrongful termination, Fox sued Paladino, its former in-house counsel, alleging disclosure of confidential and privileged information. The trial court denied Paladino’s special motion to strike the complaint. The appellate court reversed, concluding that Fox could not show a likelihood of prevailing on the merits inasmuch as an in-house counsel could disclose ostensible employer-client confidences to his own attorneys in the preparation of a suit for wrongful termination by the employer.
Freeman v. Schack
(2007, 4th District – 154 Cal.App.4th 719, 64 Cal.Rptr.3d 867)
Freemont Reorganizing Corp. v. Faigin
(2011, 2d District – 198 Cal.App.4th 1153, 131 Cal.Rptr.3d 478)
FRYM v. 601 MAIN STREET LLC
(2022, 1st District – 82 Cal. App. 5th 613)

G

Gallagher v. Connell
(2004, 2d District – 123 Cal.App.4th 1260, 20 Cal.Rptr.3d 673)
Evidence that is normally inadmissible may, if no objections are raised, be considered by the court in determining whether a plaintiff challenged by an anti-SLAPP motion has demonstrated a probability of prevailing on the complaint.
Gallanis-Politis v. Medina
(2007, 2d District – 152 Cal.App.4th 600, 61 Cal.Rptr.3d 701)
Gallano v. Burlington Coat Factory of California, LLC
(2021, 1st District – 67 Cal.App.5th 953, 282 Cal.Rptr.3d 748)
Gallant v. City of Carson
(2005, 2d District – 128 Cal.App.4th 705, 27 Cal.Rptr.3d 318)
Gallant alleged she was terminated as general manager of the city after she reported misdeeds of a city attorney and that, prior to her termination, employees of the city had made public defamatory remarks about her competency as general manager. She sued the city for defamation and wrongful termination. City filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint for defamation, which the trial court granted. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that Gallant had demonstrated a probability of prevailing on her claim.
Gallimore v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Insurance Co.
(2002, 2d District – 102 Cal.App.4th 1388, 126 Cal.Rptr.2d 560)
Gallimore sought damages from State Farm for alleged misconduct in handling his claims. The company filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint, arguing that Gallimore’s allegations were based on reports that the company had filed with the state’s Department of Insurance. The trial court granted the motion. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that the lower court, and State Farm, had confused allegations of wrongdoing with the evidence required to prove them.
Garcia v. Rosenberg
(2019, 5th District – 42 Cal.App.5th 1050, 255 Cal.Rptr.3d 377)
The Garment Workers Center v. Superior Court
(2004, 2d District – 117 Cal.App.4th 1156, 12 Cal.Rptr.3d 506)
In this companion case to Fashion 21 v. Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, the appellate court considered whether the trial court had “good cause” to lift the stay on discovery required when an anti-SLAPP motion is filed. Before hearing defendants’ special motion to strike plaintiffs’ libel claim, the trial court permitted plaintiffs to conduct discovery on the issue of actual malice. The appellate court concludes that the trial court absued its discretion in allowing discovery on actual malice before first determining whether plaintiffs had a reasonable probability of establishing the other elements of libel.
Garretson v. Post
(2007, 4th District – 156 Cal.App.4th 1508, 68 Cal.Rptr.3d 230)
Gaynor v. Bulen
(2018, 4th District – 19 Cal.App.5th 864, 228 Cal.Rptr.3d 243)
GeneThera, Inc. v. Troy & Gould Professional Corp.
(2009, 2d District – 171 Cal.App.4th 901, 90 Cal.Rptr.3d 218)
Gerbosi et al. v. Gaims, Weil, West & Epstein
(2011, 2d District – 193 Cal.App.4th 435, 122 Cal.Rptr.3d 73)
GetFugu, Inc. v. Patton Boggs
(2013, 2d District – 220 Cal.App.4th 141, 162 Cal.Rptr.3d 831)
Ghafur v. Bernstein
(2005, 1st District – 131 Cal.App.4th 1230, 32 Cal.Rptr.3d 626)
Defendants wrote a letter to the state superintendent of education concerning Ghafur and the charter schools he managed. The letter urged an investigation of religious instruction in the schools and a link to an Islamic terrorist organization. Ghafur sued defendants for defamation. The trial court granted defendants’ special motion to strike the complaint. The appellate court affirms on the grounds that Ghafur was unlikely to prevail on his complaint. Ghafur, as a public official, was required to proffer clear and convincing evidence that defendants acted with malice and he had not.
Gilbert v. Sykes
(2007, 3d District – 147 Cal.App.4th 13, 53 Cal.Rptr.3d 752)
Golden Eagle Land Investment, L.P. v. Rancho Santa Fe Association
(2018, 4th District – 19 Cal.App.5th 399, 227 Cal.Rptr.3d 903)

Golden Gate Land Holdings LLC et al. v. Direct Action Everywhere
(2022, 1st District – 81 Cal.App.5th 82, 296 Cal.Rptr.3d 768)

Golden State Seafood, Inc. v. Schloss
(2020, 2d District – 53 Cal.App.5th 21, 266 Cal.Rptr.3d 608)
Goldstein v. Ralphs Grocery Co.
(2004, 2d District – 122 Cal.App.4th 229, 19 Cal.Rptr.3d 292)
In a class action Ralphs Grocery filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which was denied by the trial court on the grounds that the various causes of action did not arise from conduct protected by the First Amendment, and in any case class actions are exempt from the special motion to strike under the state’s anti-SLAPP statute. Defendant filed a writ petition, which was summarily denied. It then filed a notice of appeal. The court dismisses the appeal. Held: When a special motion to strike is denied on the grounds the cause of action is exempt from the anti-SLAPP statute procedures, the right of immediate appeal under the statute is inapplicable.
Gotterba v. Travolta
(2014, 2d District – 228 Cal.App.4th 35, 175 Cal.Rptr.3d 131)
The Governor Gray Davis Committee v. American Taxpayers Alliance
(2002, 1st District – 102 Cal.App.4th 449, 125 Cal.Rptr.2d 534)
The Taxpayers Alliance paid for a television ad critical of Davis. After the ad was broadcast, the Davis Committee sued for injunctive relief, seeking to compel the Alliance to comply with disclosure and reporting requirements of the Political Reform Act of 1974. The Alliance filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint, which was denied by the trial court. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that the financing of the TV ad was activity protected by the First Amendment and the Davis Committee was not likely to succeed in its bid to compel the Alliance to comply with the Political Reform Act. The court distinguishes this case from Paul for Council v. Hanyecz.
Graffiti Protective Coatings, Inc. v. City of Pico Rivera
(2010, 2d District – 181 Cal.App.4th 1207, 104 Cal.Rptr.3d 692)
Greco v. Greco
(2016, 3d District – 2 Cal.App.5th 810, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 501)
Greka Integrated, Inc. v. Lowrey
(2005, 2d District – 133 Cal.App.4th 1572, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d 684)
Greka Integrated, Inc. sued a former employee for breach of contract and conversion. The trial court granted defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion and the appellate court affirmed. The appellate court held that where a party expressly consents to an untimely hearing date, he has thereafter waived his right to object thereto. The court found that defendant’s statements were covered by the anti-SLAPP law because they were made to his counsel, to authorities, in deposition, and in trial testimony. The court also found that Greka presented no evidence that defendant disclosed proprietary or confidential information or that defendant’s possession of the information was wrongful.
Grenier v. Taylor
(2015, 5th District – 234 Cal.App.4th 471, 183 Cal.Rptr.3d 867)
Grewal v. Jammu
(2011, 1st District – 191 Cal.App.4th 977, 119 Cal.Rptr.3d 835)
Gruber v. Gruber
(2020, 2d District – 48 Cal.App.5th 529, 261 Cal.Rptr.3d 819)
Guarino v. County of Siskiyou
(3/1/2018, 3d District – 21 Cal.App.5th 1170, 231 Cal.Rptr.3d 95)
Guessous v. Chrome Hearts, LLC
(2009, 2d District – 179 Cal.App.4th 1177, 102 Cal.Rptr.3d 214)

H

Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, Inc. v. Happening House Ventures
(2010, 1st District – 184 Cal.App.4th 1539, 110 Cal.Rptr.3d 129)
Hailstone v. Martinez
(2009, 5th District – 169 Cal.App.4th 728, 63 Cal.Rptr.3d 798)
Hall v. Time Warner, Inc.
(2007, 2d District – 153 Cal.App.4th 1337, 87 Cal.Rptr.3d 347)
Haneline Pacific Properties, LLC v. May
(2008, 4th District – 167 Cal.App.4th 311, 83 Cal.Rptr.3d 919)
Hansen v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(2008, 5th District – 171 Cal.4th 1537, 90 Cal. Rptr.3d 381)
Hardin v. PDX, Inc.
(2014, 1st District – 227 Cal.App.4th 159, 173 Cal.Rptr.3d 397)
Hart v. Darwish
(2017, 2d District – 12 Cal.App.5th 218, 218 Cal.Rptr.3d 757)
Hawran v. Hixson
(2012, 4th District –  209 Cal.App.4th 256, 147 Cal.Rptr.3d 88)
Healthsmart Pacific, Inc. v. Kabateck
(2016, 2d District – 7 Cal.App.5th 416, 212Cal.Rptr.3d 589)
Healy v. Tuscany Hills Landscape & Recreation Corp.
(2006, 4th District – 137 Cal.App.4th 1, 39 Cal.Rptr.3d 547)
Plaintiff homeowner sued defendant homeowners association for allegedly defamatory statements defendant’s attorneys made in a letter which it sent out to residents of Tuscany Hills regarding a legal dispute over access through plaintiff’s property. The trial court denied defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court reversed, finding that the letter was protected by the litigation privilege and thus plaintiff could not prevail.
Hecimovich v. Encinal School Parent Teacher Organization
(2012, District – 203 Cal.App.4th 450)
Hewlett-Packard Co. v. Oracle Corp.
(2015, 6th District – 239 Cal.App.4th 1174, 191 Cal.Rptr.3d 807)
Hicks v. Richard
(2019, 4th District – 39 Cal.App.5th 1167, 252 Cal.Rptr.3d 578)
HMS Capital, Inc. v. Lawyers Title Co.
(2004, 2d District – 118 Cal.App.4th 204, 12 Cal.Rptr.3d 786)
The parties had had a business relationship for a brief period. After the relationship was ended, Lawyers Title sued HMS to recover fees allegedly owed it. Judgment was entered by stipulation. HMS then filed a complaint for malicious prosecution against Lawyers Title. Defendant’s special (anti-SLAPP) motion to strike the complaint was denied by the trial court. The appellate court affirms the order, concluding that HMS had met its burden of establishing a probability of prevailing on it malicious prosecution lawsuit by making a prima facie showing that Lawyers Title acted with the intent to deliberately misuse the legal system for personal gain or satisfaction at HMS’s expense.
Holbrook v. City of Santa Monica
(2006, 2d District – 144 Cal.App.4th 1247, 51 Cal.Rptr.3d 181)
Hui v. Sturbaum
(2014, 1st District – 222 Cal.App.4th 1109, 166 Cal.Rptr.3d 569)
Hunter v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc.
(2013, 2d District – 221 Cal.App.4th 1510, 165 Cal.Rptr.3d 123)
Huntingdon Life Sciences, Inc. v. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA, Inc.
(2005, 4th District – 129 Cal.App.4th 1228, 29 Cal.Rptr.3d 521)
Huntingdon Life Sciences, Inc. (HLS) and its employee Claire Macdonald sued defendant animal rights activists for trespass, harassment, and related causes of action arising from protests which occurred outside plaintiff Macdonald’s home. Defendants appealed an order denying their anti-SLAPP motion.The appellate court affirmed the denial as to some but not all causes of actions. The court held that the anti-SLAPP statute applied because the gravamen of the action against defendants was based on their exercise of First Amendment rights, and that mere allegations that defendants acted illegally did not render the anti-SLAPP statute inapplicable. As to the probability of plaintiffs’ prevailing on the merits, the court held that collateral estoppel based on the granting of a preliminary injunction was inapplicable to an anti-SLAPP motion because the issues were not identical. It granted the motion to strike the causes of action for trespass and intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage because plaintiffs produced insufficient evidence. It also granted the motion to strike plaintiffs’ cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress because plaintiff failed to show duty. The court affirmed the denial as to the causes of action for harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and Macdonald’s individual unfair competition claim because plaintiffs showed a probability of prevailing.
Hupp v. Freedom Communications, Inc.
(2013, 4th District – 221 Cal.App.4th 398, 163 Cal.Rptr.3d 919)
Hutton v. Hafif
(2007, 2d District – 150 Cal.App.4th 527, 59 Cal.Rptr.3d 109)
Hylton v. Rogozienski, Inc.
(2009, 4th District – 177 Cal.App.4th 1264, 99 Cal.Rptr.3d 805)

I-J

In re Marriage of Benner
(2019, 4th District – 36 Cal.App.5th 177, 247 Cal.Rptr.3d 906)
Industrial Waste & Debris Box Service, Inc. v. Murphy
(2016, 1st District – 4 Cal.App.5th 1135, 208 Cal.Rptr.3d 853)
Ingels v. Westwood One Broadcasting Services, Inc.
(2005, 2d District – 129 Cal.App.4th 1050, 28 Cal.Rptr.3d 933)
Inland Oversight Comm. v. County of San Bernardino
(2015, 4th District – 239 Cal.App.4th 671, 190 Cal.Rptr.3d 384)
Integrated Healthcare Holdings, Inc. v. Fitzgibbons
(2006, 4th District – 140 Cal.App.4th 515, 44 Cal.Rptr.3d 517)
Plaintiff holding company sued defendant for defamation and other causes of action arising out of an email message in which defendant questioned plaintiff’s financial condition with regard to its purchase and operation of four hospitals. Defendant filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which the trial court denied. The appellate court reversed, finding the email message concerned an issue of public interest, and plaintiff failed to show a probability of prevailing on its claims because it failed to show falsity or any waiver of defendant’s First Amendment rights.
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39 v. Macys Inc.
(2022, 1st District – 83 Cal. App. 5th 985)Issa v. Applegate
(2019, 4th District – 31 Cal.App.5th 689, 242 Cal.Rptr.3d 809)
Jackson v. Mayweather
(2017, 2d District – 10 Cal.App.5th 1240, 217 Cal.Rptr.3d 234)
Jackson v. Yarbray
(2009, 2d District – 179 Cal.App.4th 75, 101 Cal.Rptr.3d 303)
JAMS, Inc. v. Superior Court
(2016, 4th District – 1 Cal.App.5th 984, 205 Cal.Rptr.3d 307)
Jay v. Mahaffey
(2013, 4th District – 218 Cal.App.4th 1522, 161 Cal.Rptr.3d 700)
Jeffra v. California State Lottery
(2019, 2d District – 39 Cal.App.5th 471, 251 Cal.Rptr.3d 873)
Jenni Rivera Enterprises, LLC v. Latin World Entertainment Holdings, Inc.
(2019, 2d District – 36 Cal.App.5th 766, 249 Cal.Rptr.3d 122)
Jeppson v. Ley
(2020, 2d District – 44 Cal.App.5th 845, 257 Cal.Rptr.3d 921)
Jespersen v. Zubiate-Beauchamp
(2003, 2d District – 114 Cal.App.4th 624, 7 Cal.Rptr.3d 715)
Attorneys sued for litigation-related malpractice filed an anti-SLAPP motion. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that the malpractice action was not subject to the anti-SLAPP statute. The appellate court affirms. Held: the suit does not arise out of the attorneys’ First Amendment right to petition but rather from negligent failure to protect a client’s legal rights.)
Jewett v. Capital One Bank
(2003, 2d District – 113 Cal.App.4th 805, 6 Cal.Rptr.3d 675)
Jewett filed a class action complaint against the bank, alleging that the bank’s mailed offers of lines of credit constituted deceptive and unfair business practice. The bank moved to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute, arguing that its mass solicitations were protected speech involving a public issue or an issue of public interest. The trial court granted the motion. The appellate court reverses, holding that credit card solicitations do not qualify for protection under the anti-SLAPP statute. “[T]o extend the protection of section 425.16 [of the Civil Code] to credit card solicitations would subvert the intent of the Legislature in enacting section 425.16….”
JKC3H8 v. Colton
(2013, 3d District – 221 Cal.App.4th 468, 164 Cal.Rptr.3d 450)
J-M Manufacturing Co., Inc. v. Phillips & Cohen LLP
(2016, 2d District – 247 Cal.App.4th 87, 201 Cal.Rptr.3d 782)
Jocer Enterprises, Inc. v. Price
(2010, 2d District – 183 Cal.App.4th 559, 107 Cal.Rptr.3d 539)
Johnson v. Ralphs Grocery Co
(2012, 4th District – 204 Cal.App.4th 1097, 139 Cal.Rptr.3d 396)
Johnston v. Corrigan
(2005, 2d District – 127 Cal.App.4th 553, 25 Cal.Rptr.3d 657)
The trial court denied a motion for attorney fees under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. Subsequently it granted a motion for reconsideration and then awarded attorney fees. At issue on appeal is whether the trial court had jurisdiction to reconsider its initial order. The appellate court concludes that it did.
JSJ Limited Partnership v. Mehrban
(2012, 4th District – 205 Cal.App.4th 1512)

K

Kajima Engineering & Construction, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles
(2002, 2d District – 95 Cal.App.4th 921, 116 Cal.Rptr.2d 187)
Kajima sued the City for payment for work and the City cross-complained of breach of contract. Kajima moved to strike the cross-complaint as a SLAPP; the trial court denied the motion. The appellate court affirms the denial. The court concludes that the allegations in the City’s cross-complaint arose from Kajima’s bidding and contracting practices, not from “acts in furtherance of its right of petition or free speech.” The court states: “We publish this opinion … to emphasize that a cross-complaint or independent lawsuit filed in response to, or in retaliation for, threatened or actual litigation is not subject to the anti-SLAPP statute simply because it may be viewed as an oppressive litigation tactic. No lawsuit is properly subject to a special motion to strike under section 425.16 unless its allegations arise from acts in furtherance of the right of petition or free speech.”
Karnazes v. Ares
(2016, 2d District – 244 Cal.App.4th 344, 198 Cal.Rptr.3d 155)
(modified 2-26-16)
Kashian v. Harriman
(2002, 5th District -98 Cal.App.4th 892, 120 Cal.Rptr.2d 576)
Kashian was chairman of the board of trustees of a nonprofit community hospital, which planned to build a for-profit hospital in partnership with several physicians. Harriman, a public-interest lawyer, wrote a letter to the state attorney general asking for an investigation of the hospital’s tax-exempt status, alleging that Kashian had a pecuniary interest in certain of the hospital’s transactions. Kashian sued Harriman for defamation and unfair business practices; the latter complaint was based on the allegation that Harriman was engaged in the practice of litigation designed to “extort settlements” that benefitted Harriman. The trial court granted Harriman’s special motion to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute. The appellate court affirms. Its lengthy opinion is devoted in large part to a discussion of whether the immunity from liability under Civil Code section 47 (the “litigation privilege”) applies to allegations of violations of the state’s “unfair business practice” statute (Business & Professions Code section 17200).

Keading v. Keading
(2021,1st District – 60 Cal. App. 5th 1115, 275 Cal.Rptr.3d 338)

Kemps v. Beshwate
(2009, 5th District – 180 Cal.App.4th 1012, 103 Cal.Rptr.3d 480)
Kenne v. Stennis
(2014, 2d District – 230 Cal.App.4th 953, 179 Cal.Rptr.3d 198)
Kettler v. Gould
(2018, 2d District – 22 Cal.App.5th 593, 231 Cal.Rptr.3d 580)
Key v. Tyler
(2019, 2d District – 34 Cal.App.5th 505, 246 Cal.Rptr.3d 224)
Kieu Hoang v. Phong Minh Tran
(2021, 2d District – 60 Cal.App.5th 513, 274 Cal.Rptr.3d 567)
Kim v. R Consulting & Sales, Inc.
(2021, ourth District – 67 Cal.App.5th 263, 281 Cal.Rptr.3d 918)
Kinsella v. Kinsella
(2020, 4th District – 45 Cal.App.5th 442, 258 Cal.Rptr.3d 725)
Km v. Access Insurance Company
(2017, 4th District – 17 Cal.App.5th 595, 225 Cal.Rptr.3d 711)
Kleveland v. Siegel & Wolensky LLP
(2013, 4th District – 215 Cal.App.4th 534, 155 Cal.Rptr.3d 599)
Kolar v. Donahue, McIntosh & Hammerton
(2006, 4th District – 145 Cal.App.4th 1532, 52 Cal.Rptr.3d 712)
Kreeger v. Wanland
(2006, 3d District – 146 Cal.App.4th 1540, 53 Cal.Rptr.3d 779)
Kronemyer v. Internet Movie Data Base, Inc.
(2007, 2d District – 150 Cal.App.4th 941, 59 Cal.Rptr.3d 48)
Kunysz v. Sandler
(2007, 4th District – 146 Cal.App.4th 1540, 53 Cal.Rptr.3d 779)
Kurwa v. Harrington, Foxx, Dubrow & Canter, LLP
(2007, 2d District – 146 Cal.App.4th 841, 52 Cal.Rptr.3d 256)
Kurz v. Syrus Systems, LLC
(2013, 6th District – 221 Cal.App.4th 748, 164 Cal.Rptr.3d 554)
Kyle v. Carmon
(1999, 3d District – 71 Cal.App.4th 901, 84 Cal.Rptr.2d 303)
Plaintiff school superintendent dismissed his complaint with prejudice against our client, Shelly Carmon, after we filed an anti-SLAPP motion but before the court had ruled on the motion. The trial court issued an order granting the motion to strike and awarding attorneys fees and costs. The Court of appeal held that the trial court’s adjudication of the merits of the motion supported affirmance of the award of attorney’s fees and costs.

L

L.A. Taxi Coop. v. Indep. Taxi Owners Ass’n of L.A.
(2015, 2d District – 239 Cal.App.4th 918, 191 Cal.Rptr.3d 579)
L.G. v. M.B.
(2018, 2d District – 25 Cal.App.5th 211, 235 Cal.Rptr.3d 494)
La Jolla Group II v. Bruce
(2012, 5th District – 211 Cal.App.4th 461, 149 Cal.Rptr.3d 716)
Lafayette Morehouse, Inc. v. The Chronicle Publishing Co. (“Morehouse I”)
(1995, 1st District – 37 Cal.App.4th 855, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 46)
A university offering a Ph.D. in “sensuality” sued a newspaper for libel for a series of articles on the university in relation to hearings by the county board of supervisors on whether the university was violating local health, land use, and other government regulations, and a suit by the county to enjoin alleged violations. The lower court’s granting of a special motion to strike the complaint is affirmed.
Lafayette Morehouse, Inc. v. The Chronicle Publishing Co. (“Morehouse II”)
(1995, 1st District – 39 Cal.App.4th 1379, 46 Cal.Rptr.2d 542)
A defendant who prevails on a special motion to strike a complaint is entitled to recover attorney fees and costs only for work related to the motion, not for work unrelated to the motion. [Note: This opinion was issued before the 1997 amendment of Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, requiring that the anti-SLAPP statute be construed broadly, and before the Supreme Court decision in Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity, which held that courts, “wherever possible, should interpret the First Amendment in a manner favorable to the exercise of freedom of speech, not to its curtailment.”]
Laker v. Board of Trustees of California State University
(2019, 6th District – 32 Cal.App.5th 745, 244 Cal.Rptr.3d 238)
Lam v. Ngo
(2001, 4th District – 91 Cal.App.4th 832, 111 Cal.Rptr.2d 582)
Vietnamese-Americans demonstrated against the display of North Vietnam’s flag in a store window. One group focused attention on a city councilman, Lam, who was perceived to be indifferent. Lam owned a restaurant, where demonstrators gathered. After the restaurant’s landlord, Ngo, allowed the demonstrators to gather in the parking lot, restaurant and patron property was intentionally damaged. Lam sued Ngo and 1,500 “Doe” demonstrators for damages and obtained a TRO, later a preliminary injunction, against the demonstrators. Ngo filed a motion to strike the complaint against him pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court denied the motion on the grounds that Ngo had already lost in the contest over the preliminary injunction and had not presented anything “new.” The appellate court reverses. Held: the granting of the preliminary injunction did not have the effect of res judicata with respect to the anti-SLAPP motion to strike. Moreover, Lam could not be held personally liable for acts committed by others absent evidence that he authorized, directed, or ratified specific tortious acts, incited lawless action, or gave specific instructions to carry out violent acts or threats, and no such evidence was presented to counter the anti-SLAPP motion. Nevertheless, violent acts associated with the protest are not protected by the First Amendment and do support tort liability, and thus the case is remanded to allow the plaintiff to substitute named individuals who can be shown to have engaged in tortious acts.
Lanz v. Goldstone
(2015, 1st District – 243 Cal.App.4th 441, 197 Cal.Rptr.3d 227)
Law Offices of Andrew L. Ellis v. Yang
(2009, 2d District – 178 Cal.App,4th 869, 100 Cal.Rptr.3d 771)
Lee v. Fick
(2005, 2d District -135 Cal.App.4th 89, 37 Cal.Rptr.3d 375)
Plaintiff high school athletic coach filed a lawsuit for libel, slander, and other causes of action for statements defendant parents made in a letter to the school board, oral statements defendants made to other parents, and oral statements made to the school board while requesting that it reconsider its decision to retain the coach. The trial court granted defendants anti-SLAPP motion for the libel cause of action, finding that the letter was written to prompt official action and was privileged under Civil Code section 47(b). However it denied the motion to strike the remaining causes of action.
The appellate court affirmed the granting of the motion to strike the libel claim, but reversed the trial court’s denial as to the other claims, holding that defendants’ oral comments to school officials, interested parties (other parents), and the school board were all privileged.
Lee v. Kim
(2019, 2d District – 41 Cal.App.5th 705, 254 Cal.Rptr.3d 546)
Lee v. Silveira
(2016, 4th District – 6 Cal.App.5th 527, 211 Cal.Rptr.3d 705)
Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. Diaz
(2005, 2d District – 131 Cal.App.4th 1517, 33 Cal.Rptr.3d 139)
Leegin brought an action for fraud against Diaz, an employee, alleging that Diaz had knowingly filed a fraudulent worker’s compensation claim. The trial court granted Diaz’s special motion to strike the complaint. The appellate court affirms on the grounds that Leegin is not likely to prevail on its claim.
Lefebvre v. Lefebvre
(2011, 2d District – 199 Cal.App.4th 696, 131 Cal.Rptr.3d 171)
Lennar Homes of California, Inc. v. Stephens
(2015, 4th District – 232 Cal.App.4th 673, 181 Cal.Rptr.3d 638)
Levy v. City of Santa Monica
(2004, 2d District – 114 Cal.App.4th 1252, 8 Cal.Rptr.3d 507)
After the Levys constructed a backyard playhouse, a neighbor complained to her city councillor, who inquired of planning department officials whether the construction conformed to regulations. Eventually a city employee notified the Levys that the playhouse was an unapproved structure and had to be removed or modified. The Levys sued the city and the councillor for violation of a city ordinance prohibiting councillors from giving orders to any subordinate of the city manager. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which the trial court denied on the grounds that the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply. The appellate court reverses, holding that the city councillor’s communication to the planning department was advocacy protected by the First Amendment, not an order, and therefore covered by the anti-SLAPP statute.
Li v. Jin
(2022, 6th District – 83 Cal.App.5th 481, 298 Cal. Rptr. 3d 717)
Lieberman v. KCOP Television, Inc.
(2003, 2d District – 110 Cal.App.4th 156, 1 Cal.Rptr.3d 536)
KCOP secretly recorded private consultations between Lieberman, a physician, and reporters posing as patients. The recordings were broadcast by KCOP to support allegations that Lieberman was improperly prescribing controlled drugs. Lieberman sued KCOP for violation of Penal Code section 632, which prohibits electronic eavesdropping on a confidential communication without consent of all parties and provides for monetary damages. The trial court denied KCOP’s anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint, finding that Lieberman had presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate a violation of section 632. The trial court affirms. The court concludes that the secret recording was an act in furtherance of free speech inasmuch as the recording was incorporated into a news report, and therefore plaintiff’s cause of action is subject to the anti-SLAPP statute. Nevertheless, plaintiff has established a probability of prevailing on his complaint since (1) a section 632 violation occurs the moment a confidential communication is secretly recorded, regardless of whether it is subsequently disclosed, and (2) there is no affirmative defense in the fact that the secret recording was part of legitimate newsgathering.
Lien v. Lucky United Properties Investment, Inc.
(2008, 1st District – 163 Cal.App.4th 620, 77 Cal.Rptr.3d 707)
Lin v. City of Pleasanton
(2009, 1st District – 175 Cal.App.4th 1143, 96 Cal.Rptr.3d 730)
Linsco/Private Ledger, Inc. v. Investors Arbitration Services, Inc.
(1996, 1st District – 50 Cal.App.4th 1633, 58 Cal.Rptr.2d 613)
Note: This opinion was disapproved by the California Supreme Court in Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity.
Securities broker-dealers sought to enjoin the “unauthorized practice of law” by companies that represent individual investors in arbitration proceedings with brokers. The trial court granted defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that disputes over individual investment losses are not matters of public concern and therefore the brokers’ complaint was not subject to the anti-SLAPP statue.
Litinsky v. Kaplan
(2019, 2d District – 40 Cal.App.5th 970, 253 Cal.Rptr.3d 62)
Liu v. Moore
(1999, 2d District – 69 Cal.App.4th 745, 81 Cal.Rptr.2d 807)
A SLAPP plaintiff cannot avoid liability for defendant’s attorney’s fees by dismissing its complaint prior to the hearing on defendant’s motion to strike the complaint. The court must still decide the merits of the motion to strike in order to determine whether the defendant is the prevailing party and therefore entitled to fees.
Lockton v. O’Rourke
(2010, 2d District – 184 Cal.App.4th 1051, 109 Cal.Rptr.3d 392)
Lockwood v. Sheppard, Mullin, Richter, & Hampton
(2009, 2d District – 173 Cal.App.4th 675, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 220)
Loanvest I, LLC v. Utrecht
(2015, 1st District – 235 Cal.App.4th 496, 185 Cal.Rptr.3d 385)
Long Beach Unified School Dist. v. Margaret Williams, LLC
(2019, 2d District – 43 Cal.App.5th 87, 256 Cal.Rptr.3d 354)
Lucky United Properties Investment, Inc. v. Lee
(2013, 1st District – 213 Cal.App.4th 635, 152 Cal.Rptr.3d 641)
Ludwig v. Superior Court
(1995, 4th District -37 Cal.App.4th 8, 43 Cal.Rptr.2d 350)
City, hoping to develop a shopping mall, sued a competing developer for interference with contractual relations and prospective economic advantage, and unfair competition, alleging that the developer encouraged citizens to speak out at public meetings and file law suits against the city’s proposed mall. The trial court’s denial of a special motion to strike the complaint is reversed.
Lunada Biomedical v. Nunez
(2015, 2d District – 230 Cal.App.4th 459, 178 Cal.Rptr.3d 784)

M

M.F. Farming Co. v. Couch Distributing Co., Inc.
(2012, 6th District – 207 Cal.App.4th 180, 143 Cal.Rptr.3d 160)
M.G., a minor, v. Time Warner, Inc.
(2001, 4th District – 89 Cal.App.4th 623, 107 Cal.Rptr.2d 504)
An article in Sports Illustrated about adult coaches who sexually molest youths included a photograph of a Little League team, five players of which were molested by the manager. M.G. (and others) appeared in the photo and sued for invasion of privacy. The trial court’s denial of a special motion to strike is affirmed. The appellate court agreed that the anti-SLAPP statute applied to the publication of the story. Time Warner argued that the photo was not private and its publication met the test of newsworthiness. Plaintiffs argued the photo was private and not newsworthy. The court concluded that plaintiffs had demonstrated the likelihood of prevailing on the merits of their claim, thus fulfilling their burden under the anti-SLAPP statute.
Macias v. Hartwell
(1997, 2d District – 55 Cal.App.4th 669, 64 Cal.Rptr.2d 222)
An unsuccessful candidate for a labor union office sued the successful candidate, alleging that defendant’s campaign flyers were defamatory. The trial court’s granting of a special motion to strike the complaint is affirmed. The “anti-SLAPP law applies to defamation actions arising out of statements made in a union election.”
Major v. Silna
(2005, 2d District – 135 Cal.App.4th 1485, 36 Cal.Rptr.3d 875)
In connection with an election, defendant Silna mailed a letter to a number of Malibu residents supporting certain candidates. Plaintiff Major filed a complaint for injunctive relief, alleging violations of the Malibu Municipal Code. Silna filed an anti-SLAPP motion which the trial court denied, finding that Major’s action fell within the Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17(b) exemption to the anti-SLAPP law.
The appellate court reversed, concluding that section 425.17 did not apply because subdivision (d)(2) excepts from this exemption “[a]ny action against a person … based upon the … dissemination … or similar promotion of any … political … work.” The court further held that Major could not show a probability of prevailing on the merits because he lacked standing to seek injunctive relief.
Maleti v. Wickers
(2022, 6th District – 82 Cal.App. 5th 181)
Mallard v. Progressive Choice Ins. Co.
(2010, 4th District – 188 Cal.App.4th 531, 115 Cal.Rptr.3d 487)
Malin v. Singer
(2013, 2d District – 217 Cal.App.4th 1283, 159 Cal.Rptr.3d 292)
Manhattan Loft, LLC v. Mercury Liquors, Inc.
(2009, 2d District – 173 Cal.App.4th 1040, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 457)
Manlin v. Milner
(2022, 2d District – 82 Cal. App. 5th 613)
Mann v. Quality Old Time Service, Inc. (“Mann I”)
(2004, 4th District – 120 Cal.App.4th 90, 15 Cal.Rptr.3d 215)
The court holds that where a defendant has shown that a substantial part of a cause of action constitutes speech or petitioning activity protected by the anti-SLAPP statute, the plaintiff need only show a probability of prevailing on any part of its claim. Once the plaintiff makes this showing, the court need not determine whether the plaintiff can substantiate all theories for that cause of action.
Mann v. Quality Old Time Service, Inc. (“Mann II”)
(2006, 4th District – 139 Cal.App.4th 328, 42 Cal.Rptr.3d 607)
Plaintiff challenged an attorney fees award, arguing that defendants were not prevailing parties within the meaning of Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (c) because they were unsuccessful in striking three of the four challenged causes of action. The appellate court held that “a party who partially prevails on an anti-SLAPP motion must generally be considered a prevailing party unless the results of the motion were so insignificant that the party did not achieve any practical benefit from bringing the motion,” and concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining defendants were prevailing parties on the anti-SLAPP motion. However, it found that the lower court erred in failing to reduce the fees to reflect that defendants were only partially successful on the motion and ordered the fees reduced by 50%.
Maranatha Corrections, LLC v. Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(2008, 3d District – 158 Cal.App.4th 1075, 70 Cal.Rptr.3d 614)
Marijanovic v. Gray, York & Duffy
(2006, 2d District – 137 Cal.App.4th 1262, 40 Cal.Rptr.3d 867)
Plaintiff brought a malicious prosecution action against defendant and its counsel. Each defendant filed anti-SLAPP motions, which were denied on the basis that the plaintiff had established a prima facie case of malicious prosecution. The appellate court reversed, finding that the plaintiff failed to establish probable cause.
Marlin v. Aimco Venezia, LLC
(2007, 2d District – 154 Cal.App.4th 154, 64 Cal.Rptr.3d 488)
Marshall v. Webster
(2020, 3d District – 54 Cal.App.5th 275, 268 Cal.Rptr.3d 530)
Martinez v. Metabolife International, Inc.
(2003, 4th District – 113 Cal.App.4th 181, 6 Cal.Rptr.3d 494)
Martinez sued Metabolife for personal injury, alleging that the injury was caused by ingestion one of Metabolife’s products. Metabolife filed a special motion to strike the complaint, arguing that the complaint targeted commercial speech. The trial court denied the motion and the appellate court affirms. This case was decided shortly before Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17 became effective (Jan. 1, 2004). Section 425.17 states that the anti-SLAPP motion cannot be applied to any complaint against a person primarily engaged in the business of selling or leasing goods or services where the cause of action arises from advertising or other commercial speech. (See also Brenton v. Metabolife International, Inc., 4th District Court of Appeal (2004); Scott v. Metabolife International, Inc., 3d District Court of Appeal (2004).)
Martin v. Inland Empire Utilities Agency
(2011, 4th District – 198 Cal. App.4th 611, 130 Cal.Rptr.3d 410)
Matson v. Dvorak
(1995, 3d District – 40 Cal.App.4th 539, 46 Cal.Rptr.2d 880)
An unsuccessful candidate for a local legislative office sued a rival candidate and several contributors to an organization that published a flyer accusing him of having “hundreds of dollars of unpaid fines and citations” issued by the police, alleging libel and invasion of privacy. The trial court’s granting of defendant’s special motion to strike the complaint is affirmed.
Mattel, Inc. v. Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps
(2002, 2d District – 99 Cal.App.4th 1179, 121 Cal.Rptr.2d 794)
Defendant law firm prosecuted a case for copyright infringement against Mattel, maker of the Barbie doll. A federal district court found for Mattel, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the finding of the trial court that the case for copyright infringement was without factual foundation. Mattel then sued the law firm in state court for malicious prosecution. The trial court denied a special motion to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute. The court of appeal rules that an action for malicious prosecution qualifies for treatment under the anti-SLAPP statute and affirms the trial court’s judgment that the plaintiff had demonstrated a probability of prevailing on its action.
Maughan v. Google Technology Inc.
(2006, 2d District – 143 Cal.App.2d Dist 1284, 49 Cal.Rptr.3d 861)
McGarry v. University of San Diego
(2007, 4th District – 154 Cal.App.4th 97, 64 Cal.Rptr.3d 467)
McNair v. Superior Court
(2016, 2d District – 6 Cal.App.5th 1227, 211 Cal Rptr 3d 919)
Medical Marijuana, Inc. v. ProjectCBD.com
(2016, 4th District – 6 Cal.App.5th 602, 212 Cal.Rptr.3d 45)
(modified 3-20-2020 – 46 Cal.App.5th 869, 260 Cal.Rptr.3d 237)
Medley Capital Corporation v. Security National Guaranty, Inc.
(2017, 1st District – 17 Cal.App.5th 33, 225 Cal.Rptr.3d 736
Melbostad v. Fisher
(2008, 1st District – 165 Cal.App.4th 987, 81 Cal.Rptr.3d 354)
Mendoza v. ADP Screening and Selection Services, Inc.
(2010, 2d District – 182 Cal.App.4th 1644, 107 Cal.Rptr.3d 294)
Mendoza v. Hamzeh
(2013, 2d District – 215 Cal.App.4th 799, 155 Cal.Rptr.3d 832)
Mendoza v. Wichmann
(2011, 3d District – 194 Cal.App.4th 1430, 123 Cal.Rptr.3d 823)
Metcalf v. U-Haul International, Inc.
(2004, 4th District – 118 Cal.App.4th 1261, 13 Cal.Rptr.3d 686)
Metcalf sued U-Haul for unfair competition, alleging that it consistently overstated the size of its rental trailers in advertisements. U-Haul filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that the complaint arose from its constitutionally protected right to commercial speech. The trial court denied the motion. The appellate court affirms. At issue on appeal is Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17, which prevents defendants sued for false advertising from using the anti-SLAPP motion and which became effective after the complaint in this case was filed. The court rejects appellant’s contentions that section 425.17 is unconstitutionally discriminatory and that in any event it cannot apply to a case in progress.
Midland Pacific Building Corp. v. King
(2007, 2d District – 153 Cal.App.4th 499, 63 Cal.Rptr.3d 129)
Miller v. City of Los Angeles
(2008, 2d District – 169 Cal.App.4th 1373, 87 Cal.Rptr.3d 510)
Miller v. Filter
(2007, 3d District – 150 Cal.App.4th 652, 58 Cal.Rptr.3d 671)
Miller v. Zurich American Ins. Co.
(2019, 1st District – 41 Cal.App.5th 247, 254 Cal.Rptr.3d 124)
Mireskandari v. Gallagher
(2021, 4th District – 59 Cal.App.5th 346, 273 Cal.Rptr.3d 371)
Mission Beverage Company v. Pabst Brewing Company, LLC
(2017, 2d District – 15 Cal.App.5th 686, 223 Cal.Rptr.3d 547)
Mission Oaks Ranch, Ltd. v. County of Santa Barbara
(1998, 2d District – 65 Cal.App.4th 713, 77 Cal.Rptr.2d 1)
Note:  This opinion was disapproved by the California Supreme Court in Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity.
Mission Oaks applied to the county for a tract map for property development and agreed to pay for an environmental impact report (EIR). The draft EIR found that Mission Oaks’ project would have numerous adverse and unmitigable consequences. Mission Oaks sued the county for breach of contract, alleging that it was a third-party beneficiary of the contract between the county and the consultant that prepared the EIR. The trial court’s granting of a special motion to strike the complaint is upheld. “Here Mission Oaks is simply a disgruntled developer who does not like the findings prepared by the independent environmental consultants for the County and the public. Mission Oaks seeks to stifle the EIR prepared for the County and the public. [The] SLAPP [statute] is designed to preclude such attempts to silence those who speak out on matters of public interest before legislative bodies.” The court distinguished this case from Ericsson GE Mobile Communications, Inc. v. C.S.I. Telecommunications Engineers. 
Mission Springs Water Dist. v. Verjil
(2013, 4th District – 218 Cal.App.4th 892, 160 Cal.Rptr.3d 524)
Mitchell v. Twin Galaxies, LLC
(2021, 2nd District – 70 Cal.App.5th 207, 285 Cal.Rptr.3d 211)
MMM Holdings, Inc. v. Reich
(3/12/2018, 4th District – 21 Cal.App.5th 167, 230 Cal.Rptr.3d 198)
Mobile Medical Services, etc. v. Rajaram
(2015, 4th District – 241 Cal.App.4th 164, 193 Cal.Rptr.3d 568)
Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, Inc. v. City of Lancaster
(2012, 2d District –  208 Cal.App.4th 124, 145 Cal.Rptr.3d 122)
Monterey Plaza Hotel v. Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Local 483
(1999, 6th District – 69 Cal.App.4th 1057, 82 Cal.Rptr.2d 10)
Hotel sued union alleging defamatory statements by a union official in a news report of a labor dispute at the hotel. The trial court granted the union’s special motion to strike the complaint. The appellate court affirms, holding that plaintiff was unable to establish a prima facie case of slander in its pleadings.                         
Moore v. Kaufman
(2010, 2d District – 189 Cal.App.4th 604, 117 Cal.Rptr.3d 196)
Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District v. Weir
(2004, 1st District – 115 Cal.App.4th 477, 10 Cal.Rptr.3d 13)
After a homeowners association submitted a rebuttal argument against a tax increase for a voter information pamphlet, the fire district sought a court order modifying or eliminating certain statements in the association’s argument. The association filed an anti-SLAPP motion. The trial court denied the fire district’s petition and then denied the association’s request for attorney fees and costs under the anti-SLAPP statute on the grounds that, since the mandamus proceeding had been resolved on the merits, the anti-SLAPP motion was moot. On appeal the fire district contends that challenges to statements in voter pamphlets are not subject to the anti-SLAPP statute and that the statute must be “harmonized” with provisions in the Elections Code authorizing legal challenges to false or inaccurate voter pamphlets. The appellate court rules that the anti-SLAPP statute is not inconsistent with the Elections Code, that it does apply in this case, and the association is entitled to fees and costs.
Morin v. Rosenthal
(2004, 2d District – 122 Cal.App.4th 673, 19 Cal.Rptr.3d 149)
Moriarty v. Laramar Management Corp.
(2014, 1st District – 224 Cal.App.4th 125, 168 Cal.Rptr.3d 461)
The trial court denied defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion on the grounds that it was untimely. Defendants had argued that they could not have filed the motion any sooner because they had a motion pending to transfer the case to another district of the superior court. The appellate court affirms.
Morris Cerullo World Evangelism v. Newport Harbor Offices & Marina, LLC
(2021, 4th District – 67 Cal.App.5th 1149, 283 Cal.Rptr.3d 164)
Morrow v. Los Angeles Unified School District
(2007, 2d District – 149 Cal.App.4th 1424, 57 Cal.Rptr.3d 885)
Moss Bros. Toy, Inc. v. Ruiz
(2018, 4th District – 27 Cal.App.5th 424, 238 Cal.Rptr.3d 292)
Muddy Waters, LLC v. Superior Court of San Bernardino County
(2021, 4th District – 62 Cal.App.5th 905277 Cal.Rptr.3d 204)
Mundy v. Lenc
(2012, 2d District – 203 Cal.App.4th 1401, 138 Cal.Rptr.3d 464)
Murphy v. Twitter Inc.
(2021, 1st District – 60 Cal.App.5th 12, 274 Cal.Rptr.3d 360)
Murray v. Tran
(2020, 4th District – 55 Cal.App.5th 10, 269 Cal.Rptr.3d 231)
Musero v. Creative Artists Agency, LLC
(2021, 2nd District – 72 Cal.App.5th 802, 287 Cal.Rptr.3d 625)

N-O

Nagel v. Twin Laboratories, Inc.
(2003, 4th District – 109 Cal.App.4th 39, 134 Cal.Rptr.2d 420)
This class action against Twin Laboratories, which manufactures and markets nutritional and dietary supplements, alleged violation of various statutes because of false advertising of product ingredients. Twin Labs moved to strike the complaint pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute, arguing that its advertising was commercial speech protected by the First Amendment. The trial court agreed that defendant’s labeling and advertising were protected commercial speech but also concluded that plaintiffs had established a probability of prevailing on their claims, therefore defeating the motion. The appellate court affirms the denial but on the grounds that a list of product ingredients is not commercial speech protected by the anti-SLAPP statute.
Nam v. Regents of University of California
(2016, 3d District – 1 Cal.App.5th 1176, 205 Cal.Rptr.3d 687)
Navarro v. IHOP Properties, Inc.
(2005, 4th District – 134 Cal.App.4th 834, 36 Cal.Rptr.3d 385)
Plaintiff sued IHOP for fraud alleging that IHOP never intended to keep its promise made in a stipulated judgment to consider offers to purchase her franchise “without undue delay.”; IHOP appealed the trial court’s denial of its anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court reversed, finding that 1) the Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17 exemption did not apply because any promises or statements made by defendant were to induce settlement of a lawsuit and were not made during a commercial transaction; 2) the complaint arose from defendant’s statements in, or in connection with a judicial proceeding; and 3) plaintiff did not prove a probability of prevailing on her claim because the statements IHOP made during a stipulated judgment were protected by the litigation privilege and she failed to show causation.
Navellier v. Sletten
(2003, 1st District – 106 Cal.App.4th 763, 131 Cal.Rptr.2d 201)
Plaintiffs brought actions for fraud and breach of contract. Defendant moved to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute, the motion was denied, and the appellate court affirmed on the grounds that the causes of action — negotiation and execution of a release agreement and pursuit of counterclaims in litigation — were not protected by the anti-SLAPP statute (unpublished opinion). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the causes of action were protected by the anti-SLAPP statute, and remanded the case to the court of appeal with instructions to reconsider its decision in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion. (See Navellier v. Sletten, California Supreme Court.) Specifically, the court was directed to consider whether plaintiff had established a probability of prevailing on its complaint. In this opinion the court holds that the plaintiffs have not established a probability of prevailing on their claims and thus reverses the trial court’s denial of the anti-SLAPP motion.
Nelson v. Tucker Ellis, LLP
(2020, 1st District – 48 Cal.App.5th 827, 262 Cal.Rptr.3d 250)
Nesson v. Northern Inyo County Local Hospital Dist.
(2012, 4th District – 204 Cal.App.4th 65, 138 Cal.Rptr.3d 446)

Neurelis, Inc. v. Aquestive Therapeutics, Inc.
(2021, 4th District – 71 Cal.App.5th 769, 286 Cal.Rptr.3d 631)

Neville v. Chudacoff
(2008, 2d District – 160 Cal.App.4th 1255, 73 Cal.Rptr.3d 383)
Newport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism
(2016, 4th District – 6 Cal.App.5th 1207, 212 Cal.Rptr.3d 216) (ordered published 12/26/16)
(re-appealed, 2018, 4th District – 23 Cal.App.5th 28, 232 Cal.Rptr.3d 540)
Nguyen-Lam v. Cuoung Cao
(2009, 4th District – 171 Cal.App.4th 858, 90 Cal.Rptr.3d 205)
Northern California Carpenters Regional Council v. Warmington Hercules Associates
(2004, 1st District – 124 Cal.App.4th 296, 20 Cal.Rptr.3d 918)
A carpenters’ union and individuals sued building contractors for failure to pay them prevailing wages under city’s Redevelopment Agency’s policy, alleging unfair business practices. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that the lawsuit was retaliation for their petition to a state agency for a determination that they were not required to pay prevailing wages.  The motion was denied by the court on the grounds that the cause of action did not arise from filing a petition with the state but from failure to pay prevailing wages.  On appeal plaintiffs argued that the court was required by Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17 to affirm the trial court’s denial.  Section 425.17 was intended to curb abuse of the anti-SLAPP statute by providing that the anti-SLAPP statute does not apply to “any action brought solely in the public interest or on behalf of the general public.”  The appellate court affirms the trial court’s ruling, holding that the plaintiffs’ complaint meets the conditions of section 425.17.  (See also Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine v. Tyson Foods, Inc..)
Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc. v. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA, Inc.
(2006, 1st District – 143 Cal.App.1st 1284, 49 Cal.Rptr.3d 861)
Nunez v. Pennisi
(2015, 6th District – 241 Cal.App.4th 861, 193 Cal.Rptr.3d 912)
Nygård, Inc. v. Uusi-Kerttula(2008, 2d District – 159 Cal.App.4th 1027, 72 Cal.Rptr.3d 210)
O&C Creditors Group, LLC v. Stephens & Stephens XII, LLC
(2019, 1st District – 42 Cal.App.5th 546, 255 Cal.Rptr.3d 596)
Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, LLC v. City of Oakland
(2020, 1st District – 54 Cal.App.5th 738, 269 Cal.Rptr.3d 170)
Ojjeh v. Brown
(2019, 1st District – 43 Cal.App.5th 1027, 257 Cal.Rptr.3d 146)
Okorie v. Los Angeles Unified School District
(2017, 2d District – 14 Cal.App.5th 574, 222 Cal.Rptr.3d 475)
Olaes v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.
(2006, 3d District – 135 Cal.App.4th 1501, 38 Cal.Rptr.3d 467)
Plaintiff filed a complaint for damages against his former employer, alleging he had been defamed during its investigation of sexual harassment complaints against him. The trial court denied defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court affirmed, holding that the anti-SLAPP law did not apply because a sexual harassment investigation within a private company does not constitute an official proceeding, and an investigation by a private employer concerning a small group of people does not involve an issue of public interest.
Old Republic Construction Program Group v. The Boccardo Law Firm, Inc.
(2014, 6th District – 230 Cal.App.4th 859, 179 Cal.Rptr.3d 129)
Olivares v. Pineda
(2019, 1st District – 40 Cal.App.5th 343, 253 Cal.Rptr.3d 213)
Olive Properties, L.P. v. Coolwaters Enterprises, Inc.
(2015, 2d District – 241 Cal.App.4th 1169, 194 Cal.Rptr.3d 524)
Olsen v. Harbison
(2005, 3d District – 134 Cal.App.4th 278, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d 684)
Co-counsel sued each other in a dispute over fee sharing. Nine months after a second amended complaint was filed, defendant filed an anti-SLAPP motion. The trial court found the anti-SLAPP motion was untimely because it was filed more than 60 days after service of the complaint. Harbison appealed. The appellate court dismissed the appeal as frivolous and sanctioned Harbison.
Optional Capital, Inc. v. Akin Gump Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP
(2017, 2d District – 18 Cal.App.5th 95, 226 Cal.Rptr.3d 246)
Overhill Farms, Inc. v. Nativo Lopez
(2010, 4th District – 190 Cal.App.4th 1248, 190 Cal.Rptr.3d 127)
Overstock.com, Inc. v. Gradient Analytics, Inc.
(2007, 1st District – 151 Cal.App.4th 688, 61 Cal.Rptr.3d 29)
Oviedo v. Windsor Twelve Props, LLC
(2012, 4th District – 212 Cal.App.4th 97, 151 Cal.Rptr.3d 117)
(Opinion filed on 11/19/12; modified on 11/2712; and certified for publication on 12/18/12)

P

Padres L.P. v. Henderson
(2004, 4th District – 114 Cal.App.4th 495, 6 Cal.Rptr.3d 584)
The owners of the Padres baseball club filed claims for malicious prosecution against attorney Henderson arising from a series of lawsuits Henderson had filed challenging actions taken by the City of San Diego, in collaboration with the Padres, to develop a new baseball park. Henderson filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike all claims. The trial court dismissed claims based on one of Henderson’s lawsuits (plaintiffs had conceded the claim was time-barred) and denied the special motion to strike the claims based on other lawsuits filed by Henderson. The appellate court reverses in part. The court holds that no absolute privilege applies to Henderson’s filing of the lawsuits against the Padres (and thus distinguishes City of Long Beach v. Bozek, California Supreme Court, 1982). The court concludes, however, that the plaintiffs have not demonstrated the requisite lack of probable cause in support of two of their three claims for malicious prosecution.
Paiva v. Nichols
(2008, 6th District – 168 Cal.App.4th 1007, 85 Cal.Rptr.3d 838)
Panakosta v. Hammer Lane Management, LLC
(2011, 3d District – 199 Cal.App.4th 612, 131 Cal.Rptr.3d 835)
Paredes v. CREDIT CONSULTING SERVICES, INC.
(2022, 6th District – 82 Cal. App. 5th 410)
Park 100 Investment Group II, LLC v. Gregory R. Ryan
(2009, 2d District – 180 Cal.App.4th 795, 103 Cal.Rptr.3d 218)
Pasternack v. McCullough
(2015, 4th District – 235 Cal.App.4th 1347, 186 Cal.Rptr.3d 81)
(re-appealed, 4th District – — Cal.Rptr.3d —)
Patel v. Chavez
(2020, 2d District – 48 Cal.App.5th 484, 261 Cal.Rptr.3d 829)
Paterno v. Superior Court
(2008, 4th District – 163 Cal.App.4th 1342, 78 Cal.Rptr.3d 244)
Paul for Council v. Hanyecz
(2001, 2d District – 85 Cal.App.4th 1356, 102 Cal.Rptr.2d 864)
Paul was a candidate for city council. He sued defendants, alleging that they interfered with his candidacy by contributing to an opponent in a manner that violated the state’s Political Reform Act. Defendants filed a special motion to strike the allegation. They effectively conceded the illegal nature of their method of campaign contributions, but argued that their campaign money laundering was nevertheless “in furtherance” of their First Amendment rights, and thus was protected by the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court granted the motion. The appellate court reverses, holding that such illegal activity is not a valid exercise of constitutional rights as contemplated by the anti-SLAPP statute. (See also The Governor Gray Davis Committee v. American Taxpayers Alliance.
Paul v. Friedman
(2002, 2d District 95 Cal.App.4th 853, 117 Cal.Rptr.2d 82)
Former clients sued Paul, a securities broker, alleging fraud, negligence, and violation of securities laws. Paul was completely vindicated in an arbitration proceeding; in addition, the court awarded sanctions against the plaintiffs for filing a “frivolous claim for which there was no factual foundation.” Paul then sued his former clients and their lawyer, Friedman, for malicious prosecution and a variety of other causes arising from Friedman’s investigation of Paul during the aribtration proceeding and disclosure of personal information. Friedman filed a special motion to strike the complaint pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute, on the grounds that the investigation and disclosure of information were related to “an issue under consideration or review” in the arbitration proceeding. The trial court granted Friedman’s motion to strike all tort and contract claims but refused to strike Paul’s claim that Friedman has breached a confidentiality agreement reached at the commencement of arbitration for the earlier lawsuit. In a complex decision the appellate court rules that Paul’s tort and contract claims cannot be stricken under the anti-SLAPP statute since Friedman had not met his burden of proof, i.e., he had not made the required prima facie showing that Paul’s claims arose from activity protected by the anti-SLAPP statute.
Paulus v. Bob Lynch Ford, Inc.
(2006, 6th District – 139 Cal.App.4th 659, 43 Cal.Rptr.3d 148)
Lynch brought an anti-SLAPP motion to strike Paulus’s action for malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and intentional interference with contract. The court granted the motion and awarded Lynch attorney fees and costs. Paulus appealed. The appellate court affirmed, concluding that Paulus failed to make a prima facie showing of lack of probable cause for his malicious prosecution claim. The court further found that Paulus had made no independent factual or legal arguments regarding the merits of his other claims in the trial court, nor had he specifically addressed the matter in his opening brief, and thus deemed Paulus to have abandoned any challenge to the order striking those two claims.
Pech v. Doniger
(2022, 2nd District – 75 Cal.App.5th 443, 290 Cal.Rptr.3d 47)
People v. Health Laboratories of North America, Inc.
(2001, 1st District – 87 Cal.App.4th 442, 104 Cal.Rptr.2d 618)
The district attorneys of two counties sued the manufacturer of a weight-loss product, alleging that advertising claims violated various state statutes. Defendant filed a special motion to strike, arguing that the action was prosecuted to chill its exercise of free speech. Defendant acknowledged that the anti-SLAPP statute expressly does not apply to an enforcement action brought by a district attorney (Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (d)), but challenged the constitutionality of this exclusion. The trial court denied the motion and the appellate court affirms, holding that the exclusion does not violate the “equal protection” clause of either the U.S. or California constitutions.
People v. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
(2014, 1st District – 228 Cal.App.4th 1382, 176 Cal.Rptr.3d 496)
People ex rel. 20th Century Insurance Co. v. Building Permit Consultants, Inc.
(2000, 2d District – 86 Cal.App.4th 280, 103 Cal.Rptr.2d 71)
An insurance company sued a company that assisted individuals in preparing estimates of damages from an earthquake. Plaintiff alleged that defendants arranged with homeowners to artificially increase the estimates on the condition they receive up to 50 percent of the insurance payments. Defendants filed a special motion to strike, arguing that the estimates were prepared in anticipation of litigation and therefore were exercises in the right of petition. The trial court denied the motion and the appellate court affirms. “At the time defendants created and submitted their reports and claims, there was no ‘issue under consideration’ pending before any official proceedings.”
People ex rel. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Rubin
(2021, 4th District – 66 Cal.App.5th 493, 280 Cal.Rptr.3d 858)
People ex rel. Fire Insurance Exchange v. Anapol
(2012, 2d District – 211 Cal.App.4th 809)
People ex rel. Lockyer v. Brar
(2004, 4th District – 115 Cal.App.4th 1315, 9 Cal.Rptr.3d 844)
The state attorney general filed a complaint against Brar to obtain an order to stop Brar from filing lawsuits under the state’s unfair competition law. Brar moved to strike the complaint pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeal dismisses the motion as friviolous inasmuch as the anti-SLAPP statute, by its own provisions, does not apply to actions brought by public prosecutors.
People ex rel. v. Strathmann v. Acacia Research Corp.
(2012, 4th District – 210 Cal.App.4th 487, 148 Cal.Rptr.3d 361)
Peregrine Funding, Inc. v. Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
(2005, 1st District – 133 Cal.App.4th 658, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d 31)
This case arose from the collapse of a fraudulent investment scheme. Plaintiffs — investors who lost millions and a bankruptcy trustee representing entities that were used to perpetrate the scheme — sued defendant law firm for conduct which allegedly helped advance the fraudulent scheme. The trial court denied defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court reversed in part, finding the motion should have been granted in part because plaintiffs’ claims were partially based on positions the firm took in court, or in anticipation of litigation with the SEC, and some plaintiffs did not establish a probability of prevailing. Specifically, the court concluded the bankruptcy trustee’s claims on behalf of one entity were barred by the doctrine of unclean hands and the investors’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations.
Personal Court Reporters, Inc. v. Rand
(2012, 2d District – 205 Cal.App.4th 182, 140 Cal.Rptr.3d 301)
Pfeiffer Venice Properties v. Bernard
(2002, 2d District – 101 Cal.App.4th 211, 123 Cal.Rptr.2d 647)
A landlord notified tenants to vacate their parking spaces for construction. The tenants association encouraged tenants to send the landlord a letter protesting that they could be forced to vacate their parking spaces only after a “legal process.” In the aftermath, two of the landlord’s locks were broken. The landlord sued the tenants association and certain tenants for damages on a variety of claims. Defendants filed a demurrer and notified the plaintiff of their intention to file a special motion to strike the complaint pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute. On the eve of the deadline to file the anti-SLAPP motion, the plaintiff dismissed all but two individual defendants, and shortly thereafter filed an amended complaint. The trial court dismissed the case under the doctrine of de minimis non curat lex (the law does not concern itself with trifles) and thus did not conduct a hearing on the anti-SLAPP motion. Defendants filed a motion for attorney fees under the anti-SLAPP statute; the motion was denied on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction. Held on appeal: “the trial court has jurisdiction to award attorney fees to a prevailing defendant whose SLAPP motion was not heard solely because the matter was dismissed before defendants obtained a ruling on the SLAPP motion.”
Pfeiffer Venice Properties v. Superior Court
(2003, 2d District – 107 Cal.App.4th 761, 132 Cal.Rptr.2d 400)
Philipson & Simon v. Gulsvig
(2007, 4th District – 154 Cal.App.4th 347, 64 Cal.Rptr.3d 504)
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine v. Tyson Foods, Inc.
(2004, 1st District – 119 Cal.App.4th 120, 13 Cal.Rptr.3d 926)
Plaintiff brought an action for unfair business practice under Business & Professions Code § 17500, alleging that Tyson made false and deceptive representations about its chicken products sold in California. Tyson filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that the cause of action arose from Tyson’s exercise of its right of free speech “in connection with a public issue”. The trial court granted the motion on the grounds that plaintiff failed to demonstrate a probability of success on its claims. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17, enacted while the appeal was pending, applies to the case. Section 425.17 provides that the anti-SLAPP motion to strike a complaint cannot be applied to “any cause of action brought against a person primarily engaged in the business of selling or leasing goods or services, … arising from any statement or conduct by that person,” as long as certain conditions are met. Moreover, section 425.17 contains a retroactivity clause that operated as a repeal of the trial court’s order.  (See also Brenton v. Metabolife International, Inc.)
Planned Parenthood Golden Gate v. Foti
(2003, 1st District – 107 Cal.App.4th 345, 132 Cal.Rptr.2d 46)
Plaintiff filed an action for declaratory relief, asking the court to apply to defendants an earlier injunction limiting demonstrations outside its clinic. The trial court denied defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion on the grounds that defendants had waived protection of the anti-SLAPP statute by stipulating that the present action could be filed. The appellate court affirms the denial. Held: the question whether the anti-SLAPP statute applies in this case became moot once the trial court denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment because in denying summary judgment the trial court impliedly found that plaintiff had demonstrated a probability of prevailing on its claim.
Platypus Wear, Inc. v. Goldberg
(2008, 4th District – 166 Cal.App.4th 772, 83 Cal.Rptr.3d 95)
Plumley v. Mockett
(2008, 2d District – 164 Cal.App.4th 1031, 79 Cal.Rptr.3d 822)
Pott v. Lazarin
(2020, 6th District – 47 Cal.App.5th 141, 260 Cal.Rptr.3d 631)
Prediwave Corporation v. SImpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
(2009, 6th District – 179 Cal.App.4th 1204, 102 Cal.Rptr.3d 245)
Premier Medical Management Systems, Inc. v. California Insurance Guarantee Association (“Premier Medical I”)
(2006, 2d District – 136 Cal.App.4th, 39 Cal.Rptr.3d 43)
Defendants petitioned the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) to determine whether plaintiff was improperly representing treating physicians in WCAB proceedings. Plaintiff sued, alleging that the defendants were engaged in anticompetitive activity. Arguing that the complaint was based entirely on the defendants’ constitutional right to petition the WCAB, defendants filed a special motion to strike the complaint. The trial court denied the anti-SLAPP motion. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the constitutional right to petition includes the basic act of seeking administrative action.
Premier Medical Management Systems, Inc. v. California Insurance Guarantee Association (“Premier Medical II”)
(2008, 2d District – 163 Cal.App.4th 550, 77 Cal.Rptr.3d 695)
Price v. Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3
(2011, 3d District- 195 Cal.App.4th 962; 125 Cal.Rptr.3d 220)
Public Employees’ Retirement System v. Moody’s Investors Service, Inc.
(2014, 1st District – 226 Cal.App.4th 643, 172 Cal.Rptr.3d 238)

Q-R

Raining Data Corp. v. Barrenechea
(2009, 4th District- 175 Cal. App. 4th 1363; 97 Cal. Rptr. 3d 196)
Ralphs Grocery Company v. United Foods and Commercial Workers Union Local 8
(2011, 5th District – 192 Cal.App.4th 200, 120 Cal.Rptr.3d 878)
Ralphs Grocery Company v. Victory Consultants, Inc.
(2017, 4th District – 17 Cal.App.5th 245, 225 Cal.Rptr.3d 305)
certified for publication
Ramona Unified School District v. Tsiknas
(2005, 4th Distict – 135 Cal.App.4th 510, 37 Cal.Rptr.3d 381)
Ramona Unified School District (District) sued Neighborhood Alliance for Safe Ramona Schools (Alliance) for abuse of process and barratry stemming from Alliance’s writ petition challenging a District construction project. The trial court granted Alliance’s anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court affirmed. It held that the gravamen of the abuse of process claim was actually for malicious prosecution, and was barred under City of Long Beach v. Bozek, California Supreme Court, 1982, which held a government entity may not institute a malicious prosecution proceeding against a former plaintiff. To succeed on the barratry claim, plaintiffs had to show the defendants “excited” at least three groundless lawsuits, however defendants’ amendments to their writ petition did not constitute separate proceedings.
Rand Resources, LLC v. City of Carson
(2016, 2d District – 247 Cal.App.4th 1080, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 46)
Ratcliff v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles
(2021, 2nd District – 63 Cal.App.5th 869, 278 Cal.Rptr.3d 227)
Reed v. Gallagher
(2016, 3d District – 248 Cal.App.4th 841, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 178)
Renewable Resources Coalition , Inc. v. Pebble Mines Corp.
(2013, 2d District – 218 Cal.App.4th 384, 159 Cal.Rptr.3d 901)
Reyes v. Kruger
(2020, 6th District – 55 Cal.App.5th 58, 269 Cal.Rptr.3d 549)
Rezec v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.
(2004, 2d Distict – 116 Cal.App.4th 135, 10 Cal.Rptr.3d 333)
Several individuals sued Sony Pictures under the state’s unfair competition statute, alleging that Sony falsely portrayed a person as a film critic and attributed to him laudatory reviews of its films. The studio filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint; the trial court denied the motion on the grounds that advertisements for films, as commercial speech, are not protected under the First Amendment. The appellate court (in a split decision) affirms.
Richmond Compassionate Care Collective v. 7 Stars Holistic Foundation, Inc.
(2019, 1st District – 32 Cal.App.5th 458, 243 Cal.Rptr.3d 816)
Rivera v. First Databank, Inc.
(2010, 4th District – 187 Cal.App.4th 709, 115 Cal.Rptr.3d 1)
Rivero v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO
(2003, 1st District – 105 Cal.App.4th 913, 130 Cal.Rptr.2d 81)
Rivero sued numerous individuals and entities, alleging defamation and other claims arising from statements made by the union as part of its contract negotiation campaign. Rivero, a supervising janitor at a university, had been accused of theft, extortion, and favoritism by employees he supervised. Although the charges were not substantiated by an investigation, Rivero’s position was terminated and he was assigned work as a pot scrubber. During contract negotiations with the university the union distributed flyers that claimed union janitors had stood up to their “abusive supervisor” and caused his firing. The union filed an anti-SLAPP motion. The trial court denied the motion on the grounds that the statements made by the union during contract negotiations do not fall under activity protected by the state’s anti-SLAPP statute. The appellate court affirms. Most of the court’s opinion focuses on the phrase “in connection with a public issue” in the anti-SLAPP statute.
RGC Gaslamp, LLC v. Ehmcke Sheet Metal Co., Inc.
(2020, 4th District – 56 Cal.App.5th 413, 270 Cal.Rptr.3d 425)
Roberts v. Los Angeles County Bar Association
(2003, 2d District – 105 Cal.App.4th 604, 129 Cal.Rptr.2d 546)
Roberts was a candidate in an election for municipal court judge in Los Angeles. The bar association evaluates all candidates in contested elections for judgeships through its judicial evaluation committee. A candidate may request disqualification of any member of the committee who the candidate believes has a potential conflict of interest. Roberts objected to seven members of the committee. The day after the committee publicly issued an evaluation of Roberts as “not qualified,” Roberts sued the association for breach of contract and fraud based on the allegation that one of the committee members who should have been disqualified at her request was actually present during committee deliberations. The association filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint; the trial court denied the motion on the grounds that the suit, which sought damages in connection with the evaluation process, was not a SLAPP. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that the evaluation process is “inextricably intertwined with and part and parcel of the evaluations,” which are constitutionally protected speech. Thus, the anti-SLAPP statute applies as much to the evaluation process as to the evaluations themselves.
Robertson v. Rodriguez
(1995, 2d District – 36 Cal.App.4th 347, 42 Cal.Rptr.2d 464)
A city councilman, alleging libel, sued proponents of a campaign to recall him. At issue was a mailer stating that the plaintiff had been fined by the city for operating an illegal business out of his home. The trial court’s granting of a special motion to strike the complaint is affirmed.
Robinzine v. Vicory
(2006, 1st District – 148 Cal.App.4th 1416, 50 Cal.Rptr.3d 65)
Robles v. Chalilpoyil
(2010, 6th District – 181 Cal.App.4th 566, 104 Cal.Rptr.3d 628)
Roche v. Hyde
(2020, 1st District – 51 Cal.App.5th 757, 265 Cal.Rptr.3d 301)
Roger Cleveland Golf Co., Inc. v. Krane & Smith, APC
(2014, 2d District – 225 Cal.App.4th 660, 170 Cal.Rptr.3d 431)
Rohde v. Wolf
(2007, 2d District – 154 Cal.App.4th 28, 64 Cal.Rptr.3d 348)
Rosenaur v. Scherer
(2001, 3d District – 88 Cal.App.4th 260, 105 Cal.Rptr.2d 674)
Rosenaur launched a ballot initiative to permit commercial development of land he owned. The measure lost after a bitterly fought campaign. Rosenaur sued defendants, opponents of the measure, alleging defamation. The trial court granted a special motion to strike the allegation. The appellate court affirms, holding that the statements alleged to be defamatory could not reasonably be interpreted as factual and therefore plaintiff could not make out a prima facie case for defamation. Rosenaur also appealed the award of attorney fees to defendants, arguing that defendants are not entitled to recover attorney fees because defense counsel agreed to a partial pro bono fee. Held: neither the plain language of the anti-SLAPP statute nor the policies underlying it justifies denying a prevailing defendant attorney fees when representation is pro bono.
Ross v. Kish
(2006, 2d District – 145 Cal.App.4th 188, 51 Cal.Rptr.3d 484)
Rudisill v. California Coastal Com.
(2019, 2d District – 35 Cal.App.5th 1062, 247 Cal.Rptr.3d 840)
Ruiz v. Harbor View Community Association
(2005, 4th District – 134 Cal.App.4th 1456, 37 Cal.Rptr.3d 133)
Ruiz alleged that two letters written by HVCA’s attorney defamed him. The trial court denied HVCA’s anti-SLAPP motion on the grounds that the letters were not protected by the anti-SLAPP statute. The appellate court reversed, holding that the two letters were communications regarding an issue of public interest. The court further found that Ruiz had not shown a probability of prevailing: he failed to show the second letter was defamatory, or that either letter had been published. However, the court remanded with directions for the trial court to reconsider Ruiz’s request for discovery only on the issue of publication of the first letter and decide the anti-SLAPP motion accordingly.
Russell v. Foglio
(2008, 2d District – 160 Cal.App.4th 653, 73 Cal.Rptr.3d 87)

S

S.A. v. Maiden
(2014, 4th District – 229 Cal.App.4th 27, 176 Cal.Rptr.3d 567)
Salma v. Capon
(2008, 1st District – 161 Cal.App.4th 1275, 74 Cal.Rptr.3d 873)
Sanchez v. Bezos
(June 30, 2022, B309364, B312143)
San Diegans for Open Government v. Har Construction, Inc.
(2015, 4th District – 240 Cal.App.4th 611, 192 Cal.Rptr.3d 559)
San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District v. Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Association
(2004, 1st District – 125 Cal.App.4th 343, 22 Cal.Rptr.3d 724)
A complaint seeking judicial review of an action or decision by a public entity is not subject to a special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute. The action is not itself an exercise of the public entity’s right of free speech or petition.
Sandlin v. McLaughlin
(2020, 4th District – 50 Cal.App.5th 805, 263 Cal.Rptr.3d 874)
Santa Barbara County Coalition Against Automobile Subsidies v. Santa Barbara County Association of Governments
(2008, 2d District – 167 Cal.App.4th 1229, 84 Cal.Rptr.3d 714)
Santa Clara Waste Water Company v. County of Ventura Environmental Health Division
(2017, 2d District – 17 Cal.App.5th 1082, 225 Cal.Rptr.3d 885)
Santa Monica Rent Control Board v. Pearl Street, LLC
(2003, 2d District – 109 Cal.App.4th 1308, 135 Cal.Rptr.2d 903)
The Board filed this action for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that state and local rent control law were violated by defendants. At issue is whether, in light of facts presented to the Board, defendants are entitled to charge market rate for rental of certain units. The trial court granted defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that the basis of the suit — defendants’ filing of notices of their intention to re-rent units at market rates — is not an act by defendants in furtherance of the right of petition or free speech and therefore is not protected by the anti-SLAPP statute.
Save Westwood Village v. Luskin
(2014, 2d District – 233 Cal.App.4th 135, 182 Cal.Rptr.3d 328)
Scalzo v. American Express Co.
(2010, 2d District – 185 Cal.App.4th 91, 109 Cal.Rptr.3d 638)
Schaffer v. City and County of San Francisco
(2008, 1st Distrct – 168 Cal.App.4th 992, 85 Cal.Rptr.3d 880)
Schoendorf v. U.D. Registry, Inc.
(2002, 2d District – 97 Cal.App.4th 227, 118 Cal.Rptr.2d 313)
UDR is a consumer reporting agency that gathers and sells information about unlawful detainer cases. Schoendorf, a tenant, after unsuccessfully attempting to have UDR amend information about her in UDR’s records, sued UDR for acts of negligence. The trial court granted the defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion, on the grounds that UDR had a constitutionally protected right to disseminate information found in court records. The appellate court reverses on the grounds that the information gathered by UDR does not come exclusively from court records. In addition, the court holds, UDR has a duty under both state and federal credit reporting statutes, which require “maximum accuracy” in credit reports, and this duty is not abrogated or reduced by any First Amendment rights. (See also Decker v. The U.D. Registry, Inc. (2003)
Schroeder v. City Council of the City of Irvine
(2002, 4th District – 97 Cal.App.4th 174, 118 Cal.Rptr.2d 330)
Schroeder sued the Irvine City Council over the council’s approval of funds for a voter registration drive (Vote 2000), alleging that the program was a ruse to campaign for a county measure concerning development of an abandoned military airbase. The trial court granted defendants’ special motion to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute, ruling that the plaintiff had not shown a likelihood of proving that the expenditures for Vote 2000 were unlawful political expenditures. Schroeder appealed, arguing that if his demonstration of the likelihood of prevailing on his claims was deficient it was because he was denied permission to conduct “specified discovery” that would have produced evidence the expenditures were unlawful. In addition, he argued that the anti-SLAPP statute’s provision for attorney fees for the prevailing party should be construed as permissive or declared unconstitutional. The appellate court concludes that Schroeder had not shown good cause to conduct specified discovery; materials sought by Schroeder were either readily available without the device of discovery or were irrelevant to his claims as a matter of law. The court also upholds the constitutionality of the anti-SLAPP statute’s provision for mandatory attorney fees.
Schwarzburd v. Kensington Police Protection & Community Services Dist.
(2014, 1st District – 225 Cal.App.4th 1345, 170 Cal.Rptr.3d 899)
Scott v. Metabolife International, Inc.
(2004, 3d District – 115 Cal.App.4th 404, 9 Cal.Rptr.3d 242)
Scott sued Metabolife for damages for false and deceitful advertising, alleging that she was injured by a Metabolife product. Metabolife filed a motion to strike the complaint, arguing that the causes of action arose from its advertising, labeling, marketing, and promoting of its product, activities protected by the First Amendment. The trial court denied the motion to strike the complaint for false advertising on the grounds that “applying [the anti-SLAPP statute] to advertising would be stretching the definition of that statute to its outermost boundaries.” The appellate court affirms on the grounds that Metabolife’s advertising of its products for profit does not concern an issue of public interest as required by the anti-SLAPP statute. (Between the trial court’s ruling and the time this matter was heard in oral argument before the appellate court, California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.17 became law. Under section 425.17, commercial advertising is not protected by the anti-SLAPP statute.) (See also Martinez v. Metabolife International, Inc., 4th District Court of Appeal (2003); Brenton v. Metabolife International, Inc., 4th District Court of Appeal (2004).)
Seelig v. Infinity Broadcasting Corp.
(2002, 1st District – 97 Cal.App.4th 798, 119 Cal.Rptr.2d 108)
Seelig participated in a TV show, “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire.” Before the broadcast Seelig was invited to appear on a radio talk show. She declined. The radio program hosts discussed on the air her refusal to be interviewed. Seelig sued the radio program hosts and the broadcast station owners for damages, alleging defamation and other causes. The defendants filed both a demurrer and a special motion to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court denied the anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court reverses, concluding that the anti-SLAPP statute applies to the radio broadcast and plaintiff could not prevail on the merits of her claims, since none of the alleged defamatory statements were actionable statements of fact.
Seltzer v. Barnes
(2010, 1st District – 182 Cal.App.4th 953, 106 Cal.Rptr.3d 290)
Serova v. Sony Music Entertainment
(2020, 2d District – 44 Cal.App.5th 103, 257 Cal.Rptr.3d 398)
Shahbazian v. City of Rancho Palos Verdes
(2017, 2d District – 17 Cal.App.5th 823, 225 Cal.Rptr.3d 772)
Sheley v. Harrop
(2017, 3d District – 9 Cal.App.5th 1197, 215 Cal.Rptr.3d 606)
Shekhter v. Financial Indemnity Co.
(2001, 2d District – 89 Cal.App.4th 141, 106 Cal.Rptr.2d 843)
Financial sued a number of persons, including Shekhter, alleging insurance fraud. The suit was settled, with the condition that all information relating to the suit be kept confidential. Later, in the present case, Allstate Insurance filed a complaint against Shekhter alleging insurance fraud. Shekhter filed a cross-complaint against Allstate but also Financial Indemnity, its lawyers, and others. Shekhter alleged inter alia that the conduct of Financial’s lawyers in the earlier suit against him included unfair business practices and violations of the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Motions by different defendants to strike specific causes of action in the cross-complaint were denied by the trial court. The appellate court reversed. Held: a special motion to strike can apply toa single cause of action when other claims remain to be resolved. Additionally, actions by an attorney on behalf of a SLAPP target fall within the scope of the anti-SLAPP statute. In this case because the actions alleged to be unfair business practices and violations of the Unruh Act arose in connection with the prosecution of a lawsuit, they were actions in furtherance of the right of petition and thus covered by the anti-SLAPP statute.
Sheppard v. Lightpost Museum Fund
(2006, 6th District – 146 Cal.App.4th 315, 52 Cal.Rptr.3d 821)
Siam v. Kizilbash
(2005, 6th District – 130 Cal.App.4th 1563, 31 Cal.Rptr.3d 368)
Kizilbash accused Siam of abusing his two sons, reporting him to public officials. He also filed a civil harassment petition against Siam. In turn, Siam sued Kizilbash for defamation and malicious prosecution among other causes of action. The trial court denied Kizilbash’s motion to dismiss the entire complaint as a SLAPP. The appellate court upholds the order except for the claim of malicious prosecution, holding that such a claim may not be based on a civil harassment petition. In addition, the court holds that the “litigation privilege” (Civil Code section 47) is overriden by liability for false reporting under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (Penal Code section 11164 et seq.).
Silk v. Feldman
(2012, 2d District – 208 Cal.App.4th 547)
Simmons v. Allstate Insurance Co.
(2001, 3d District – 92 Cal.App.4th 1068, 112 Cal.Rptr.2d 397)
Simmons filed a cross-complaint for defamation after Allstate sued him for unfair business practices (alleging that Simmons had overtreated patients covered by Allstate). The trial court granted a special motion to strike the cross-complaint. On appeal, Simmons claimed that the trial court erred in refusing to grant him leave to amend the cross-complaint after the court had granted the motion. Held: allowing a SLAPP plaintiff to amend the complaint would undermine the anti-SLAPP statute’s purpose of providing for quick dismissal of meritless lawsuits.
Simmons v. Bauer Media Group USA, LLC
(2020, 2d District – 50 Cal.App.5th 1037, 263 Cal.Rptr.3d 903)
Singh v. Lipworth
(2014, 3d District – 227 Cal.App.4th 813, 174 Cal.Rptr.3d 131)
Sipple v. Foundation for National Progress
(1999, 2d District – 71 Cal.App.4th 226, 83 Cal.Rptr. 677)
The magazine “Mother Jones” published an article about a custody battle, ostensibly to show how rich and powerful men may use the legal system to their advantage over women who may have been abused by them. The subject of the article sued the magazine for defamation. The appellate court upholds the trial court’s dismissal of the suit following a special motion to strike the complaint. The court concluded that the subject of the article was not the private affair of an individual but a public proceeding involving public issues. “[T]he issues of spousal abuse generated in the custody proceedings are of public interest when the person accused of the abuse is a nationally known figure identified with morality campaigns for national leaders ….” The defendant argued that there was a probability he would prevail on his defamation claim because not all of the magazine article was privileged under Civil Code section 47, which confers an absolute privilege on any fair and true report of a judicial proceeding. The court rejected this argument on the grounds that the defendant has made his case if he can establish by the evidence that the gist of the alleged defamatory statements is justified.
Six4Three, LLC v. Facebook, Inc.
(2020, 1st District – 49 Cal.App.5th 109, 262 Cal.Rptr.3d 594)
Slaney v. Ranger Insurance Co.
(2004, 2d District – 115 Cal.App.4th 306, 8 Cal.Rptr.3d 915)
Slaney prepared an estimate for repair of an aircraft in support of a claim by third parties presented to Ranger Insurance. The company denied the claim on grounds that the claim was fraudulently excessive and sued the insureds and Slaney for bad faith. Slaney’s motion for summary judgment was granted and he was dismissed from the suit. The insureds subsequently received a judgment against the company as well as punitive damages for malicious denial of their claim. Slaney then brought this action for malicious prosecution. The trial court denied the company’s anti-SLAPP motion after concluding that Slaney presented sufficient evidence to establish a probability of prevailing on his complaint. The appellate court affirms. According to the court, the underlying judgment against the company, which included a finding of malice and an award of punitive damages, demonstrated a potential for recovery in the present case.
Slauson Partnership v. Ochoa
(2003, 2d District – 112 Cal.App.4th 1005, 5 Cal.Rptr.3d 668)
The owner of a mini-mall filed a complaint for injunctive relief against Ochoa, alleging he had organized ongoing demonstrations against one of the mall’s tenants, a club that produced nude shows. Ochoa filed an anti-SLAPP motion, but a month later the parties stipulated to an injunction that regulated the manner of the demonstrations. Ochoa’s motion was tabled to allow time for the injunction to be tested and reviewed by the court. After a month and a half, the trial court, based on testimony about the conduct of the demonstrations, denied the anti-SLAPP motion on the grounds that plaintiffs had succeeded in demonstrating a probability of succeeding on its claim. In a lengthy opinion, the appellate court affirms, ruling that the trial court did not err in considering the same evidence for both the motion to strike and the injunction.
Smith v. Adventist Health System/West
(2010, 5th District – 190 Cal.App.4th 40, 117 Cal.Rptr.3d 805)
Sonoma Media Investments, LLC v. Superior Court
(2019, 1st District – 34 Cal.App.5th 24, 247 Cal.Rptr.3d 5)
South Sutter, LLC v. LJ Sutter Partners, L.P.
(2011, 3d District – 193 Cal.App.4th 634)
Southern California Gas Co. v. Flannery
(2014, 2d District – 232 Cal.App.4th 477, 181 Cal.Rptr.3d 436)
Spencer v. Mowat
(2020, 2d District – 46 Cal.App.5th 1024, 260 Cal.Rptr.3d 372)
Sprengel v. Zbylut
(2015, 2d District – 241 Cal.App.4th 140, 194 Cal.Rptr.3d 407)
(modified 10-29-15)
Squires v. City of Eureka
(2014, 1st District – 231 Cal.App.4th 577, 180 Cal.Rptr.3d 10)
Stafford v. Attending Staff Assn. of LAC + USC Medical Center
(2019, 2d District – 41 Cal.App.5th 629, 254 Cal.Rptr.3d 369)
StaffPro, Inc. v. Elite Show Services, Inc.
(2006, 4th District – 136 Cal.App.4th 1392, 39 Cal.Rptr.3d 682)
StaffPro filed a malicious prosecution suit against Elite which responded with an anti-SLAPP motion. The trial court granted Elite’s motion, ruling that StaffPro failed to carry its burden of establishing a probability that it would prevail because it had not shown favorable termination or probable cause. The appellate court affirmed, holding that a severability analysis is improper in determining whether a malicious prosecution plaintiff has demonstrated favorable termination of an underlying lawsuit. Thus, since the first cause of action in the underlying suit had not terminated in favor of StaffPro, it could not demonstrate favorable termination, and therefore could not prevail in its malicious prosecution suit.
Starview Property, LLC v. Lee
(2019, 2d District – 41 Cal.App.5th 203, 254 Cal.Rptr.3d 58)
State Farm General Insurance Co. v. Majorino
(2002, 2d District – 99 Cal.App.4th 974, 121 Cal.Rptr.2d 719)
Majorino and O’Brien sued several people after they were allegedly assaulted during a party at a private home. The home’s owners were among the named defendants; the owners tendered their defense to State Farm under their homeowner policy. State Farm then filed an action for declaratory relief, seeking a judicial determination of its duty to indemnify the homeowners. In turn, Majorino and O’Brien filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that State Farm’s action was designed to chill their right to petition for legal redress. The trial court denied the motion, and the appellate court affirmed, concluding that Majorino and O’Brien had failed to demonstrate that State Farm’s action for declaratory relief qualified as a SLAPP under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. “[T]he act which underlies and forms the basis for State Farm’s declaratory relief action is not the personal injury lawsuit filed by appellants, but the [homeowners’] tender of the defense of that lawsuit under a policy that contains an arguably applicable exclusionary clause.”
State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Lee
(2011, 3d District – 193 Cal.App.4th 34, 122 Cal.Rptr.3d 183)
Steadman v. Osborne
(2009, 4th District – 178 Cal.App.4th 950, 100 Cal.Rptr.3d 724)
Steed v. Department of Consumer Affairs
(2012, 2d District – 204 Cal.App.4th 112, 138 Cal.Rptr.3d 519)
Stenehjem v. Sareen
(2014, 6th District – 226 Cal.App.4th 1405, 173 Cal.Rptr.3d 173)
Stewart v. Rolling Stone LLC
(2010, 1st District – 181 Cal.App.4th 664, 105 Cal.Rptr.3d 98)
Suarez v. Trigg Laboratories, Inc.
(2016, 2d District – 3 Cal.App.5th 118, 207 Cal.Rptr.3d 411)
Sugarman v. Benett
(2021, 2d District – 73 Cal.App.5th 165, 288 Cal.Rptr.3d 174)

Sugarman v. Brown
(2021, 2d District – 73 Cal.App.5th 152, 288 Cal.Rptr.3d 165)

Summerfiled v. Randolph
(2011, 2d District – 201 Cal.App.4th 127)
Sunset Millennium Associates, LLC v. Le Songe, LLC
(2006, 2d District – 138 Cal.App.4th 256, 41 Cal.Rptr.3d 273)
Sunset Millennium Associates v. LHO Grafton Hotel
(2006, 2d District – 146 Cal.App.4th 300, 52 Cal.Rptr.3d 828)
Supershuttle International, Inc. v. Labor & Workforce Development Agency
(2019, 2d District – 40 Cal.App.5th 1058, 253 Cal.Rptr.3d 666)
Swanson v. County of Riverside
(2019, 4th District – 36 Cal.App.5th 361, 248 Cal.Rptr.3d 476)
Sycamore Ridge Apartments LLC v. Naumann
(2007, 4th District – 157 Cal.App.4th 1385, 69 Cal.Rptr.3d 561)
Sylmar Air Conditioning v. Pueblo Contracting Services, Inc.
(2004, 2d District – 122 Cal.App.4th 1049, 18 Cal.Rptr.3d 882)
In response to Pueblo’s lawsuit against it, Sylmar filed a cross-complaint alleging fraud among other actions. Pueblo filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the cross-complaint for fraud. Before the hearing on the motion, Sylmar filed an amended cross-complaint. The trial court granted the anti-SLAPP motion. On appeal Sylmar argued that its amended cross-complaint made the anti-SLAPP motion moot. The appellate court holds that a plaintiff may not avoid a hearing on an anti-SLAPP motion by filing an amended pleading, and thus, if the motion is granted, may not avoid the mandatory award of costs and attorney fees to the SLAPP target.
Symmonds v. Mahoney
(2019, 2d District – 31 Cal.App.5th 1096, 243 Cal.Rptr.3d 445)

T


Taheri Law Group v. Evans
(2008, 2d District – 160 Cal.App.4th 482, 72 Cal.Rptr.3d 847)

Takhar v. People ex rel. Feather River Air Quality Management Dist.
(2018, 3d District – 27 Cal.App.5th 15, 237 Cal.Rptr.3d 759)

Talega Maintenance Corp. v. Standard Pacific Corp.
(2014, 4th District – 225 Cal.App.4th 722, 170 Cal.Rptr.3d 453)

Tendler v. www.jewishsurvivors.blogspot.com
(2008, 6th District – 164 Cal.App.4th 802, 79 Cal.Rptr.3d 407)

Appellant Tendler obtained a pre-lawsuit discovery order in an Ohio state court directed to Google, from whom he sought to learn the identities of the anonymous individuals who had posted statements about him on the Internet that he believed were defamatory. Tendler then filed a request for subpoenas in Santa Clara County Superior Court premised on the Ohio discovery order. The anonymous individuals filed an anti-SLAPP motion. The court held that a request for a subpoena is not a “cause of action,” and therefore cannot be subject to an anti-SLAPP motion. In his concurrence, Justice McAdams urged the Legislature to consider whether the anti-SLAPP law should be expanded to include such third-party subpoena requests. As of Jan. 1, 2009, amendments to Code of Civil Procedure sections 1987.1 and 1987.2 provide that in a successful motion to quash such a subpoena, the court shall award the amount of the reasonable expenses, including attorney fees, incurred in making the motion.

Tamkin v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc.
(2011, 2d District – 193 Cal.App.4th 133, 22 Cal.Rptr.3d 264)

Teamsters Local 2010 v. Regents of University of California
(2019, 1st District – 40 Cal.App.5th 659, 253 Cal.Rptr.3d 394)

Terry v. Davis Community Church
(2005, 3d District – 131 Cal.App.4th 1534, 33 Cal.Rptr.3d 145)

Plaintiffs, employees of Davis Community Church, sued the church and others for defamation and emotional distress, alleging that church officials falsely accused them of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a minor in the course of their church work. The trial court granted defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court affirms the order, concluding that private communications concerning issues of public interest are protected by the anti-SLAPP statute (see Averill v. Superior Court) and plaintiffs had not demonstrated a probability of prevailing on their claims.

Thayer v. Kabateck Brown Kellner LLP
(2012, 1st District –  207 Cal.App.4th 141, 143 Cal.Rptr.3d 17)

Third Laguna Hills Mutual v. Joslin
(2020, 4th District – 49 Cal.App.5th 366, 262 Cal.Rptr.3d 814)

Traditional Cat Association, Inc. v. Gilbreath
(2004, 4th District – 118 Cal.App.4th 392, 13 Cal.Rptr.3d 353)

This case arose because of a split in the ranks of organized cat breeders. The founder of The Traditional Cat Association sued defendants for allegedly defamatory statements published on their website. The trial court denied defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint, concluding that plaintiffs had demonstrated a probability of prevailing on their complaint. The court’s decision was based on its ruling that defendants’ statute of limitations defense in their anti-SLAPP motion was not a proper issue for determination under the terms of the anti-SLAPP statute. The appellate court finds this conclusion erroneous. Moreover, it rejects plaintiffs’ argument that a cause of action for defamation arising from statements posted on a website arises continuously while the website is operating, holding that the single publication rule in the law of defamation applies to statements published on websites. Because defendants posted the alleged defamatory statements more than a year before plaintiffs filed their complaint, the action for defamation is barred by the statute of limitations. This is the first California court to adopt the single-publication rule for web publishing.

Thomas v. Quintero
(2005, 1st District – 126 Cal.App.4th 635, 24 Cal.Rptr.3d 619)

Quintero was part of organized public protests against Thomas, his landlord. After Quintero and others appeared at Thomas’s church, Thomas took action against Quintero by filing a petition seeking injunctive relief against civil harassment (Civil Code section 527.6). Quintero responded with an anti-SLAPP motion, which the trial court denied. The appellate court reverses. Held: A Section 527.6 petition to enjoin civil harassment is subject to an anti-SLAPP motion to strike. However, an application for a temporary restraining order (TRO), issued pending a hearing on the petition for injunctive relief, is not subject to an anti-SLAPP motion. The request for a TRO does not qualify as a “cause of action” under the anti-SLAPP statute.

Tichinin v. City of Morgan Hill
(2009, 6th District – 177 Cal.App.4th 1049, 9 Cal.Rptr.3d 661)

Tourgeman v. Nelson & Kennard
(2014, 4th District – 222 Cal.App.4th 1447, 166 CAl.Rptr.3d 729)

Towner v. County of Ventura
(2021, 2d District – 63 Cal.App.5th 761, 277 Cal.Rptr.3d 891)

Trapp v. Naiman
(2013, 4th District – 218 Cal.App.4th 113, 159 Cal.Rptr.3d 462)

Trilogy at Glen Ivy Maintenance Assn. v. Shea Homes, Inc.
(2015, 4th District – 235 Cal.App.4th 361, 185 Cal.Rptr.3d 8)

Trilogy Plumbing, Inc. v. Navigators Specialty Insurance Company
(2020, 4th District – 50 Cal.App.5th 920, 263 Cal.Rptr.3d 892)

Trinity Risk Management, LLC v. Simplified Labor Staffing Solutions, Inc.
(2021, 2d District – 59 Cal.App.5th 995, 273 Cal.Rptr.3d 831)

Truck Insurance Exchange v. Federal Insurance Company
(2021, 2d District – 63 Cal.App.5th 211, 277 Cal.Rptr.3d 579)

Tuchscher Development Enterprises, Inc. v. San Diego Unified Port District
(2003, 4th District – 106 Cal.App.4th 1219, 132 Cal.Rptr.2d 57)

Plaintiff sued the Port for a variety of business-related causes of action, alleging that the Port had interfered with an exclusive negotiating agreement between plaintiff and others concerning development of bayfront property. The Port filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that the lawsuit arose from the Port’s review of plans for the development. The trial court granted the motion. On appeal plaintiff argued that no issue concerning the development project was before the Port in any official process when the Port commented on the project. Even if that were true, the appellate court says, the project was nevertheless a matter of public interest and therefore the Port’s comments were protected by the anti-SLAPP statute. Because the court also finds that plaintiff did not demonstrate a probability of prevailing on its claims, it affirms the grant of the motion.

Tucker Ellis LLP v. Superior Court
(2017, 1st District – 12 Cal.App.5th 1233, 220 Cal.Rptr.3d 382)

Tukes v. Richard
(2022, 2d District – 81 Cal.App.5th 1, 296 Cal.Rptr.3d 707)

Turnbull v. Lucerne Valley Unified School District
(2018, 4th District – 24 Cal.App.5th 522, 234 Cal.Rptr.3d 488)

Turner v. Vista Pointe Ridge HOA
(2009, 4th District – 180 Cal.App.4th 676, 102 Cal.Rptr.3d 750)

Tutor-Saliba Corp. v. Herrera
(2006, 1st District – 136 Cal.App.4th 164, 39 Cal.Rptr.3d 21)

Plaintiff Tutor-Saliba Corporation sued the City Attorney of San Francisco for allegedly defamatory statements he made in a speech before the San Francisco Chinese-American Democratic Club regarding a lawsuit he had filed against plaintiff. The trial court granted defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion, concluding that the alleged defamatory statements were absolutely privileged under Civil Code section 47(a) (“official duty privilege”), as well as under Government Code sections 821.6 and 820.2 (“prosecutorial immunity” and “discretionary immunity,” respectively). The appellate court affirmed.

Tuszynzka v. Cunningham
(2011, 4th District – 199 Cal.App.4th 257, 131 Cal.Rptr.3d 63)

U-V

Ulkarim v. Westfield LLC
(2014, 2d District – 227 Cal.App.4th 1266, 175 Cal.Rptr.3d 17)
USA Waste of California, Inc. v. City of Irwindale
(2010, 2d District – 184 Cal.App.4th 53, 108 Cal.Rptr.3d 466)
United States Fire Insurance Co. v. Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
(2005, 6th District – 171 Cal.App.4th 1617, 90 Cal.Rptr.3d 619)
U.S. Western Falun Dafa Association v. Chinese Chamber of Commerce
(2008, 1st District – 163 Cal.App.4th 590, 77 Cal.Rptr.3d 710)
Urick v. Urick
(2017, 2d District – 15 Cal.App.5th 1182 224 Cal.Rptr.3d 125)
ValueRock TN Properties, LLC v. PK II Larwin Square SC LP
(2019, 4th District – 36 Cal.App.5th 1037, 249 Cal.Rptr.3d 179)
Vargas v. City of Salinas (Salinas II)
(2011, 6th District – 200 Cal.App.4th 1331, 134 Cal.Rptr.3d 244)
Verceles v. Los Angeles Unified School District
(2021, 2d District – 63 Cal.App.5th 776, 278 Cal.Rptr.3d 246)
Vergos v. McNeal
(2007, 3d District – 146 Cal.App.4th 1387, 53 Cal.Rptr.3d 647)
Vivian v. Labrucherie
(2013, 1st District – 214 Cal.App.4th 267, 153 Cal.Rptr.3d 707)
Visher v. City of Malibu
(2005, 2d District – 126 Cal.App.4th 363, 23 Cal.Rptr.3d 816)
City refused to process plaintiffs’ application for a “coastal development permit” because the city’s right to do so was the subject of a lawsuit by the city against the California Coastal Commission. Plaintiffs filed a petition for writ of mandate to require the city to process their application. The city moved to dismiss the petition as a SLAPP. The trial court denied the anti-SLAPP motion and refused to dismiss the petition. The appellate court affirms on the grounds that plaintiffs’ petition arose from the city’s refusal to process an application, not from the city’s lawsuit against the Coastal Commission. Although the city could not claim the protection of the state’s anti-SLAPP statute, it was not left defenseless in preserving its case against the Coastal Commission.
Vogel v. Felice
(2005, 6th District – 127 Cal.App.4th 1006, 26 Cal.Rptr.3d 350)
Two candidates for public office sought damages for libel and other torts based on statements posted on a public website. Defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion was denied on the grounds that the allegedly libelous statements could be shown to have exceeded privileges afforded under state law and the U.S. Constitution. The appellate court reverses. According to the court, plaintiffs’ claims fell squarely within the protection of the anti-SLAPP statute, requiring plaintiffs to show they could prevail on the merits, and plaintiffs failed to carry this burden.

W

Walker v. Kiousis
(2001, 4th District – 93 Cal.App.4th 1432, 114 Cal.Rptr.2d 69)
Walker, a California Highway Patrolman, arrested Kiousis for suspected drunk driving. After pleading guilty, Kiousis filed a citizen complaint against Walker with the CHP, alleging conduct inappropriate for an officer. The CHP determined the complaint was without merit, and Walker then sued Kiousis for defamation. Civil Code section 47 generally creates an absolute privilege for statements made in the course of an official proceeding. However, section 47.5 creates an exception, allowing a peace officer to bring a defamation action against an individual who knowingly and maliciously files a false complaint about the office. Kiousis moved to dismiss Walker’s suit, arguing that Civil Code section 47.5 was unconstitutional and therefore his complaint to the CHP was protected under the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court granted the motion to strike, but on the grounds that Walker had not demonstrated a probability of prevailing on his lawsuit, as required by the anti-SLAPP statute, because he had not shown he sustained any actual damage. The appellate court affirmed the granting of the motion to strike, but on the grounds that section 47.5 is unconstitutional because it impermissably regulates speech based on the content of the speech.
Wallace v. McCubbin
(2003, 2d District – 111 Cal.App.4th 744, 3 Cal.Rptr.3d 909)
Wang v. Hartunian
(2003, 2d District – 111 Cal.App.4th 744, 3 Cal.Rptr.3d 909)
In a dispute over use of a vacant lot owned by Wang, Hartunian obtained a permanent restraining order against Wang. Hartunian summoned the police on several occasions to deal with alleged violations of the order, and on one occasion effected a citizen’s arrest of Wang. Wang sued Hartunian alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, and abuse of process among other causes of action. Hartunian’s special motion to strike the complaint as a SLAPP was granted by the trial court, which concluded that Wang was not likely to prevail on his claims. The appellate court reverses, holding that a citizen’s arrest is not a protected activity under the anti-SLAPP statute.
Wang v. Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust
(2007, 4th District -153 Cal.App.4th 790, 63 Cal.Rptr.3d 575)
Wanland v. Law Offices of Mastagni, Holstedt & Chiurazzi
(2006, 3d District – 141 Cal.App.4th 15, 45 Cal.Rptr.3d 633)
Plaintiffs sued defendants for malicious prosecution. The trial court granted defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion and the court of appeal affirmed. On remand, the trial court awarded attorney fees for the work on appeal as well as for defendants’ challenge to plaintiffs’ undertaking to stay enforcement of the judgment. Plaintiffs appealed the award of attorney fees for the undertaking. The appellate court affirmed, finding that not permitting attorney fees for such efforts would be inconsistent with the Legislature’s intent to encourage continued participation in free speech and petition activities.
Weeden v. Hoffman
(2021, 4th District – 70 Cal.App.5th 269, 285 Cal.Rptr.3d 262)
Weinberg v. Feisel
(2003, 3d District – 110 Cal.App.4th 1122, 2 Cal.Rptr.3d 385)
Weinberg sued Feisel for defamation, alleging that Feisel told others that Weinberg had stolen a valuable collector’s item. Feisel moved to strike the complaint as a SLAPP, contending that his statements accused plaintiff of criminal activity and that criminal activity is always a matter of public interest. The trial court denied the motion, noting that Feisel never reported his suspicions to law enforcement officials and offered no evidence that he intended to file civil charges against plaintiff. The appellate court affirms. The court concludes that nothing in the record supports even an arguable suggestion that Feisel’s statements constituted speech protected by the First Amendment and therefore plaintiff’s causes of action were not subject to dismissal under the anti-SLAPP statute. “Defendant has failed to demonstrate that his dispute with plaintiff was anything other than a private dispute….”
West v. Arent Fox LLP
(2015, 2d District – 237 Cal.App.4th 1065, 188 Cal.Rptr.3d 729)
(modified 6/26/15)
White v. Lieberman
(2002, 2d District – 103 Cal.App.4th 210, 126 Cal.Rptr.2d 608)
Attorney Lieberman represented homeowners in an action against White for slander of title, and the trial court found White liable. An appellate court reversed on the grounds the action was not supported by substantial evidence. Subsequently White sued Lieberman for malicious prosecution of the slander action. The trial court sustained Lieberman’s demurrer, but refused to consider Lieberman’s anti-SLAPP motion on the grounds that it was moot in view of the successful demurrer. The appellate court concludes that the trial court erred in determining that Lieberman’s motion was moot. Because a malicious prosecution action is within the provisions of the anti-SLAPP statute, and there is no possibility White can prevail, the only matter left for the trial court’s consideration is the amount of attorney fees.  (See Yu v. Signet Bank/Virginia, where the same issue is decided similarly.)
Whitehall v. County of San Bernardino
(2017, 4th District – 17 Cal.App.5th 352, 225 Cal.Rptr.3d 321)
Widders v. Furchtenicht
(2008, 2d District – 167 Cal.App.4th 769, 84 Cal.Rptr.3d 428)
Wilbanks v. Wolk
(2004, 1st District -121 Cal.App.4th 883, 17 Cal.Rptr.3d 497)
Brokerage firm sued Wolk, alleging Wolk had made defamatory statements about its business integrity on her website, where Wolk publishes information for the general public about a special type of life insurance policy brokered by plaintiffs. Wolk moved to strike the claim for defamation as a SLAPP; the trial court granted the motion. The appellate court reverses the ruling. The court agrees that the anti-SLAPP statute applies in this case but concludes that plaintiffs showed the requisite probability of prevailing on their claim for defamation.
Wilcox v. Superior Court
(1994, 2d District – 27 Cal.App.4th 809, 33 Cal.Rptr.2d 446)
Several court reporters brought suit against an alliance of court reporters, claiming unfair business practice and interference with plaintiffs’ existing contracts and prospective economic advantages. Defendants cross-complained for damages arising from a flyer circulated by the plaintiffs to raise money for litigation costs. The trial court’s denial of a special motion to strike the cross-complaint is reversed.
Wilkerson v. Sullivan
(2002, 4th District – 99 Cal.App.4th 443, 121 Cal.Rptr.2d 275)
Plaintiffs appealed an order granting an anti-SLAPP motion but dismissed the appeal before it was decided. Defendant moved for an award of attorney fees in connection with the appeal but the court denied recovery of fees. Defendant appealed the denial. The court of appeal reverses, holding that defendants in a SLAPP are entitled to an award of attorney fees incurred in connection with defending the anti-SLAPP motion on appeal even when plaintiffs voluntarily dismiss the appeal. Once the trial court has granted an anti-SLAPP motion, the judicial decision that the action was a SLAPP remains intact unless reversed by the court of appeal and thus the defendant remains the “prevailing party” for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16.
Wilson v. Cable News Network, Inc.
(2016, 2d District – 6 Cal.App.5th 822, 211 Cal.Rptr.3d 724)
(Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded)
Winslett v. 1811 27th Avenue, LLC
(2018, 1st District – 26 Cal.App.5th 239, 237 Cal.Rptr.3d 25)Wisner v. Dignity Health
(2022, No. C094051)
Witte v. Kaufman
(2006, 3d District – 141 Cal.App.4th 1201, 46 Cal.Rptr.3d 790)
Wittenberg v. Bornstein
(2020, 1st District – 50 Cal.App.5th 303, 263 Cal.Rptr.3d 677)
Wong v. Jing
(2010, 6th District – 189 Cal. App. 4th 1354, 117 Cal. Rptr. 3d 747)
The trial court denied an anti-SLAPP motion to strike a dentist’s claims of libel per se and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, filed against two parents and Yelp!, arising from a negative review on Yelp! regarding the dentist’s treatment of the parents’ child.  The Court of Appeal held that six of the seven claims should have been dismissed pursuant to the anti-SLAPP law.
Wong v. Wong
(2019, 1st District – 43 Cal.App.5th 358, 256 Cal.Rptr.3d 624)
Woodhill Ventures, LLC v. Yang
(2021, 2nd District – 68 Cal.App.5th 624, 283 Cal.Rptr.3d 507)
Workman v. Colichman
(2019, 2d District – 33 Cal.App.5th 1039, 245 Cal.Rptr.3d 636)
World Financial Group, Inc. v. HBW Ins. & Financial Services, Inc.
(2009, 2d District – 172 Cal.App.4th 1561, 92 Cal.Rptr.3d 227)

X-Y-Z

Xu v. Huang
(2021, 2nd District – 73 Cal.App.5th 802, 288 Cal.Rptr.3d 558)
Yang v. Tenet Healthcare Inc.
(2020, 4th District – 48 Cal.App.5th 939, 262 Cal.Rptr.3d 429)
Yeager v. Holt
(2018, 3d District – 23 Cal.App.5th 450, 232 Cal.Rptr.3d 693)
Yee v. Cheung
(2013, 4th District – 220 Cal.App.4th 184, 162 Cal.Rptr.3d 851)
York v. Strong
(2015, 4th District – 234 Cal.App.4th 1471, 184 Cal.Rptr.3d 845)
Young v. Midland
(2022, Nos. A161843, A162784)
Young v. Tri-City Healthcare Dist.
(2012, 4th District – 210 Cal.App.4th 35, 148 Cal.Rptr.3d 119)
Yu v. Signet Bank/Virginia
(2002, 1st District – 103 Cal.App.4th 298, 126 Cal.Rptr.2d 516)
Yu filed a class action on behalf of California residents against two banks for abuse of process and unfair business practice after the banks filed debt-collection actions in Virginia, their home state. The trial court sustained the banks’ demurrer to a third amended complaint but denied the banks’ concurrent anti-SLAPP motion on the grounds the latter was moot in light of the successful demurrer. The banks appealed. Both parties appealed. On appeal Yu argued that, because the anti-SLAPP motion was filed a year after the original complaint, it was untimely under the anti-SLAPP statute. The appellate court holds that an amended complaint is a “complaint” under the anti-SLAPP statute (which requires that a special motion to strike be filed “within 60 days of the service of the complaint”), and, since the motion in this case was filed within 60 days of service of the third amended complaint, it was timely. In addition, the anti-SLAPP motion is no longer moot, the court concludes, in light of the court’s reversal of the trial court’s ruling on the demurrer. Nevertheless, the court affirms the trial court’s denial of the anti-SLAPP motion but on the grounds that Yu’s claims “have sufficient potential merit to withstand Banks’ anti-SLAPP motion.” The case is interesting because the filing of a collection action in a distant state in effect deprives customers of the opportunity to defend themselves. Nevertheless, the court filing is a protected First Amendment activity under the anti-SLAPP statute, so only a determination that there is a likelihood the plaintiffs might prevail preserves the complaint for abuse of process.
Zhang v. Chu
(2020, 2d District – 46 Cal.App.5th 46, 259 Cal.Rptr.3d 536)
Zhang v. Jenevein
(2019, 2d District – 31 Cal.App.5th 585, 242 Cal.Rptr.3d 800)
Zhao v. Wong
(1996, 1st District – 48 Cal.App.4th 1114, 55 Cal.Rptr.2d 909)
Note:  This opinion was disapproved by the California Supreme Court in Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity.
Zhao sued Wong for slander, alleging that Wong had falsely accused her of murdering his brother in a newspaper article about a coroner’s investigation into the brother’s mysterious death and a contest in probate court over the brother’s will. The trial court granted a special motion to strike the complaint, saying that “if you make a comment about a judicial proceeding, that’s an act in furtherance of a person’s right of petition [or] free speech.” The appellate court reverses, concluding that the brother’s death, although newsworthy, did not rise to the level of a public issue protected by the anti-SLAPP statute.
Zucchet v. Galardi
(2014, 4th District – 229 Cal.App.4th 1466, 178 Cal.Rptr.3d 363)****************************************

Superior Court, Appellate Division – Published Opinions:

O’Neil-Rosales v. Citibank (South Dakota) N.A.
(2017, App.Div.Super.Ct – LA – 11 Cal.App.5th Supp. 1, 217 Cal.Rptr.3d 723)

source

 

Federal SLAPP Cases Decided by U.S. District Courts in California

Opinions in the U.S. District Courts concerning the California Anti-SLAPP Statute (CCP § 425.16):

 

[note:  the list below also includes some non-California cases involving CCP § 425.16]

Alfasigma USA, Inc. v. First Databank, Inc.
United States District Court, N.D. California. August 02, 2019 398 F.Supp.3d 578

Alfasigma USA, Inc. v. First Databank, Inc.
525 F.Supp.3d 1088 – ND Cal 2021

Ayyadurai v. Floor64, Inc.
270 F.Supp.3d 343 – D Mass. 2017

Arenas v. Shed Media US Inc.
881 F.Supp.2d 1181 – CD Cal. 2011

Blatt v. Pambakian
432 F.Supp.3d 1141 – CD Cal. 2020

Brown v. Electronic Arts, Inc.
722 F.Supp.2d 1148 – CD Cal. 2010

Browne v. McCain
611 F.Supp.2d 1062 – CD Cal. 2009

Bulletin Displays, LLC v. Regency Outdoor Advertising, Inc.
448 F.Supp.2d 1172 – CD Cal. 2006

Burnett v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
229 F.Supp.2d 962 – CD Cal. 2007

Choose Energy, Inc. v. American Petroleum Institute
87 F.Supp.3d 1218 – ND Cal. 2015

Clifford v. Trump
339 F.Supp.3d 915 – CD Cal. 2018

Cline v. Reetz-Laiolo
329 F.Supp.3d 1000 – ND Cal. 2018

Competitive Technologies. v. Fujitsu Ltd.
286 F.Supp.2d 1118 – ND Cal. 2003

This is a very complex case of patent infringement and numerous related causes of action, further complicated by issues of choice of law since the case was transferred from a district court in Illinois. Competitive Technologies filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike certain counterclaims asserted by Fujitsu. The court concludes that California law does not apply to Fujitsu’s counterclaims.

Condit v. National Enquirer, Inc.
248 F.Supp.2d 945 – ED Cal. 2002

The wife of U.S. Congressman Gary Condit sued the National Enquirer for libel based on statements published in two issues of the weekly publication. Defendant’s motion to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute is denied on the grounds that the allegedly defamatory statements did not concern a public issue and the plaintiff had demonstrated in her complaint that she could succeed on the merits.

Cox v. Mariposa County
445 F.Supp.3d 804 – ED Cal. 2020

Davis v. Hollins Law
942 F.Supp.2d 1004 – ED Cal. 2013

Dean v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
562 F.Supp.3d 928 – CD Cal. 2022

Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Development, LLC v. Pandora Marketing, LLC
500 F.Supp.3d 1104 2020 WL – CD Cal. 2020

Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Development, LLC v. Pandora Marketing, LLC
541 F.Supp.3d 1020 – CD Cal. 2021

Dickman v. Kimball, Tirey & St. John, LLP
982 F.Supp.2d 1157 – SD Cal. 2013

Drawsand v. F.F. Properties, L.L.P.
866 F.Supp.2d 1110 – ND Cal. 2011

E.D.C. Technologies, Inc. v. Seidel
225 F.Supp.3d 1058 – ND Cal. 12-6-2016

eCash Technologies v. Guagliardo
127 F.Supp.2d 1069 – CD Cal 2000

After defendant registered the domain name “ecash.com”, plaintiff filed federal claims of cyberpiracy, trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and trademark dilution. Defendant filed a counterclaim seeking cancellation of plaintiff’s registration of the “eCash” mark and alleging unfair or unlawful business practices by plaintiff under state law. The court granted plaintiff’s special motion to strike defendant’s state law counterclaims pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute inasmuch as the counterclaims were based on a letter from plaintiff’s counsel that was a communication related to pending litigation and therefore privileged under Civil Code section 47(b).

Electronic Frontier Foundation v. Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd.
290 F.Supp.3d 923 – ND Cal. 2017

Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians of the Sulphur Bank Rancheria v. Ceiba Legal, LLP
230 F.Supp.3d 1146 – ND Cal. 2-2-2017

Fabbrini v. City of Dunsmuir
544 F.Supp.2d 1044 – ED Cal. 2006

Flores v. Emerich & Fike
416 F.Supp.2d 885 – ED Cal. 2006

Plaintiff fruit growers filed a complaint alleging various forms of alter ego liability, fraudulent transfers, and the existence of a racketeering enterprise against the corporate defendants and the law firm and individual attorneys who represented them (Fike defendants). The Fike defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike several of the claims. The district court found that the section Civil Code 425.17 exemption to the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply because it was strictly a private dispute, and the alleged actions of the Fike defendants did not involve marketing their services nor were representations made to potential consumers or to gain a competitive advantage. The court granted the motion to strike each cause of action because plaintiffs did not show a probability of prevailing on any of their claim.

Four Navy Seals & Jane Doe v. Associated Press
413 F.Supp.2d 1136 – SD Cal. 2005

Freeman v. ABC Legal Services, Inc.
827 F.Supp.2d 1065 – ND Cal. 2011

Friedman v. DirecTV
262 F.Supp.3d 1000 – CD Cal. 2015

Gallagher v. Philipps
563 F.Supp.3d 1048 – SD Cal. 2021

Gamble v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
348 F.Supp.3d 1003 – ND Cal. 2018

Global Telemedia International, Inc. v. Doe 1
132 F.Supp.2d 1261 – CD Cal. 2001

Several individuals, using pseudonyms, posted remarks about a publicly traded telecommunications company in an Internet chat room. The company brought suit in state court, alleging trade libel, libel per se, interference with contractual relations and prospective economic advantage. Defendants removed the case to federal court. The court granted the defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion, after finding that the company had not satisfied its burden of showing a probability of success on its claims for trade libel and defamation. The court concluded that, given the context of publication and the “colorful and figurative language” of the postings, defendants’ statements about the company could not reasonably be understood to be factual.

Globetrotter Software, Inc. v. Elan Computer Group, Inc. Globetrotter Software, Inc. v. Rainbow Technologies, Inc.
63 F.Supp.2d 1127 – ND Cal 1999

Globetrotter made statements to the market concerning the products of Elan and Rainbow and subsequently sued the two companies. The defendant companies brought a number of state-law counterclaims for damages due to Globetrotter’s statements. Globetrotter filed a special motion to strike the counterclaims under the anti-SLAPP statute. The motion was denied on the grounds that statements by one company regarding the conduct of a competitor do not come within the statute’s protection of Petition Clause conduct.

Gottesman v. Santana
263 F.Supp.3d 1034 – SD Cal. 2017

Hanover Insurance Company v. Fremont Bank
68 F.Supp.3d 1085 – ND Cal. 2014

Harkonen v. Fleming
880 F.Supp.2d 1071 – ND Cal. 2012

Hart v. Larson
232 F.Supp.3d 1128 – SD Cal. 2017

Herring Networks, Inc. v. Maddow
445 F.Supp.3d 1042 – SD Cal. 2020 445 F.Supp.3d 1042

Hutton v. Law Offices of Collins & Lamore
668 F.Supp.2d 1251 – SD Cal. 2009

In re Bohrer
United States Bankruptcy Court, 628 B.R. 676 – SD Cal. 2021

In re Landes
United States Bankruptcy Court, 627 B.R. 144 _ ED Cal. 2021

In re Outlaw Laboratories, LP Litigation
352 F.Supp.3d 992 – SD Cal. 2018

Intel Corporation v. Seven Networks, LLC
562 F.Supp.3d 454 2021 – ND Cal. 2021

Johnson v. Altamirano
418 F.Supp.3d 530 – SD Cal. 2019

Kearney v. Foley & Lardner
553 F.Supp.2d 1178 – SD Cal. 2008

Lauter v. Anoufrieva
642 F.Supp.2d 1060 – CD Cal. 2009

Makaeff v. Trump University, LLC
26 F.Supp.3d 1002 – SD Cal. 2014

Maloney v. T3Media, Inc.
94 F.Supp.3d 1128 – CD Cal. 2015

Mandel v. Hafermann
503 F.Supp.3d 946 – ND Cal 2020

Manufactured Home Communities, Inc. v. San Diego County (“Manufactured II”)
606 F.Supp.2d 1266 – SD Cal. 2009

MCSI, Inc. v. Woods
290 F.Supp.2d 1030 – ND Cal. 2003

Plaintiff sued defendants for multiple causes, including defamation, based on “negative statements” about the company on an Internet forum for discussion of large, publicly traded corporations. Defendant Woods, who had posted the remarks, filed a special motion to strike the complaint against him under the the anti-SLAPP statute. The court denies the motion on the grounds that the remarks did not concern a public issue and therefore are not protected by the statute.

Mello v. Great Seneca Financial Corp.
526 F.Supp.2d 1024 – CD Cal. 2008

Metabolife International, Inc. v. Susan Wornick (“Wornick I”)
72 F.Supp.2d 1160 – SD Cal. 1999

Metabolife claimed that defendants, in statements on a television broadcast, committed defamation, slander, trade libel, and intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage. The trial court grants defendants’ motion to dismiss under the anti-SLAPP statute. It concludes that defendants’ statements are protected by the First Amendment, either because they are true or represent opinion, and thus are covered by the anti-SLAPP statute. Because the court refuses to admit evidence proferred by Metabolife as expert evidence, Metabolife cannot demonstrate a probability of prevailing on its claims, as required by the anti-SLAPP statute. (See the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in this case.)

Metabolife International, Inc. v. Susan Wornick (“Wornick II”)
213 F.Supp.2d 1220 – SD Cal. 2002

Order granting attorney fees to defendant who prevailed on an anti-SLAPP motion.

National Abortion Federation v. Center for Medical Progress
533 F.Supp.3d 802 – ND Cal. 2021

New.net, Inc. v. Lavasoft
356 F.Supp.2d 1090 – CD Cal. 2004

Parties are Internet software publishers. New.net writes software that is downloaded from the Internet to an individual’s computer without the knowledge or request of the computer owner. Lavasoft provides software that detects such programs and allows the computer owner to remove them. Plaintiff lost its bid for a preliminary injunction to prohibit Lavasoft from including New.net software in its list of removable programs. The court’s denial was based in part on the grounds that Lavasoft, through its software, was engaged in expression protected under the First Amendment. Defendant then filed an anti-SLAPP motion against all state-law claims, which the court granted.

Nicosia v. DeRooy
72 F.Supp.2d 1093 – ND Cal. 1999

Nicosia sued DeRooy for defamation in connection with statements published about Nicosia on DeRooy’s website. Nocosia was agent for the writer Jack Kerouac’s daughter Jan. The court granted a special motion to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP law, reasoning that the plaintiff was a limited-purpose public figure subject to the actual malice standard, had failed to plead actual malice with sufficient specificity, and therefore had failed to establish a probability that he would prevail in the case as required by the anti-SLAPP statute.

O’Handley v. Padilla
— F.Supp.3d —- N.D. California 2022

Penrose Hill, Limited v. Mabray
479 F.Supp.3d 840 – ND Cal. 2020

Physician’s Surrogacy, Inc. v. German
311 F.Supp.3d 1190 – SD Cal. 2018

Piping Rock Partners, Inc. v. David Lerner Associates
946 F. Supp. 2d 957 – ND Cal. 2013

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. v. Center for Medical Progress
214 F.Supp.3d 808 – ND Cal. 2016

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. v. Center for Medical Progress
402 F.Supp.3d 615 – ND Cal. 2019

PLS.com, LLC v. National Association of Realtors
516 F.Supp.3d 1047 – CD Cal. 2021

Plumleigh v. City of Santa Ana
754 F.Supp.2d 1201 – CD Cal. 2010

Powertech Technology, Inc. v. Tessera, Inc.
872 F.Supp.2d 924 – ND Cal. 2012

Price v. Stossel
590 F.Supp.2d 1262 – CD Cal. 2008

Ramachandran v. City of Los Altos
359 F.Supp.3d 801- ND Cal. 2019

Ray Charles Foundation v. Robinson
919 F.Supp.2d 1054 – CD Cal. 2013
(Reversed by Ninth Circuit on non-anti-SLAPP issues; see 765 F.3d 1109, 1114)

Resolute Forest Products, Inc. v. Greenpeace International
— F.Supp.3d —- – ND Cal. 10-16-2017

Robinson v. Alameda County
875 F.Supp.2d 1029 – ND Cal. 2012

Rogers v. Home Shopping Network
57 F.Supp.2d 973 – CD Cal. 1999

Rogers sued the National Enquirer, alleging libelous statements about her in a published article. The newspaper filed a special motion to strike the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute. The court determined that the anti-SLAPP statute’s provision for staying discovery was inconsistent with Federal Rule of Procedure 56, and therefore postponed ruling on the motion until after the plaintiff had an opportunity to discover the identity of the purported confidential source of the published statements. “[I]f a defendant desires to make a special motion to strike based on the plaintiff’s lack of evidence, the defendant may not do so until discovery has been developed sufficiently to permit summary judgment under Rule 56. Once the nonmoving party has been given the opportunity to conduct discovery, the special motion can be heard….”

Rouse v. Law Offices of Rory Clark
465 F.Supp.2d 1031 – SD Cal. 2009

Select Portfolio Servicing v. Valentino
875 F.Supp.2d 975 – ND Cal. 2012

Shack v. NBC Universal Media, LLC
467 F.Supp.3d 885 – CD Cal. 2020

Sharper Image Corporation v. Target Corp.
425 F.Supp.2d 1056 – ND Cal. 2006

Defendants brought counterclaims for tortious interference with economic advantage and unfair competition. Plaintiff filed an anti-SLAPP motion. Defendants’ counterclaims were based on emails sent by plaintiff to retailers and media representatives who advertised the product in question, advising them of the lawsuit and asking them not to carry or advertise the product. The district court concluded that because the intended audience of the emails was actual or potential buyers or customers, or persons likely to repeat the statement to or otherwise influence an actual or potential buyer or customer, the counterclaims were exempt from the anti-SLAPP law, pursuant to Civil Code Section 425.17(c).

Shropshire v. Fred Rappoport Co.
294 F.Supp.2d 1085 – ND Cal. 2003

Plaintiffs sued for copyright infringement and other causes of action, including interference with prospective economic advantage, after it terminated defendants’ rights to use a song in a video production. Defendants filed a special (anti-SLAPP) motion to strike the complaints for interference with prospective economic advantage on the grounds that the complaints were based on statements made by defendant in anticipation of litigation with plaintiffs and therefore protected by California’s “litigation privilege” statute. The court concludes that, before it can decide on the motion, it must resolve the factual question whether defendant’s allegedly tortious statements were made “with a good faith belief in a legally viable claim and in serious contemplation of litigation” and therefore plaintiff must be permitted to conduct discovery on this point. Accordingly, the court does not apply the California anti-SLAPP statute’s stay on discovery.

Sikhs for Justice “SFJ”, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc.
144 F.Supp.3d 1088 – ND Cal. 2015

Smith v. Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, Inc.
723 F.Supp.2d 1205 – ND Cal. 2010

Sonoma Foods, Inc. v. Sonoma Cheese Factory, LLC
634 F.Supp.2d 1009 – ND Cal. 2007

Stossel V. Meta
No. 21-cv-07385-VKD – ND California 2022

Summit Media LLC v. City of Los Angeles
530 F.Supp.2d 1084 – CD Cal. 2008

Synopsys, Inc. v. Ubiquiti Networks, Inc.
313 F.Supp.3d 1056 – ND Cal. 2018

Thomas v. Los Angeles Times Communications
189 F.Supp.2d 1005 – CD Cal. 2002

Thomas was the subject of a biography on his experiences during World War II. Thomas claimed to be a member of the French resistance and, as an agent of the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps, to have uncovered evidence concerning Nazi concentration camp practices. After publication of the biography, an article critical of Thomas’s claims appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Thomas sued for damages, alleging defamation by implication. Defendants filed a special motion to strike the complaint pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute. The district court grants the motion on the grounds that it is unlikely Thomas would prevail on the merits of his claim. The court analyzes in detail the Los Angeles Times article to reach the conclusion that it does not provide sufficient evidence of defamation by implication.

Tisdale v. City of Los Angeles
617 F.Supp.2d 1003 – CD Cal. 2009

Tobinick v. Novella
108 F.Supp.3d 1299 – SD Fla 2015

Troy Group, Inc. v. Tilson
364 F.Supp.2d 1149 – CD Cal. 2002

The Troy Group sued Tilson for defamation based on a statement Tilson made to his attorney in a lawsuit against Troy. Tilson filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint. The parties disputed whether Tilson’s statement was “in connection with an issue of public interest” as required by the anti-SLAPP statute. The court grants Tilson’s motion on the grounds that the public issue requirement was satisfied and Troy had not demonstrated a probability of prevailing on the merits of its claim.

Tuck Beckstoffer Wines LLC v. Ultimate Distributors
682 F.Supp.2d 1003 – ND Cal. 2010

TYR Sport, Inc. v. Warnaco Swimwear, Inc.
626 F.Supp.2d 1120 – C.D. Cal. 2009

UCP International Company Limited v. Balsam Brands Inc.
420 F.Supp.3d 966 – ND Cal. 2019

United States ex rel. Solis v. Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
445 F.Supp.3d 786 – ED Cal. 2020

United Tactical Systems, LLC v. Real Action Paintball, Inc.
143 F.Supp.3d 982 – ND Cal. 2015

Weiland Sliding Doors & Windows, Inc. v. Panda Windows & Doors, LLC
814 F.Supp.2d 1033 – SD Cal. 2011

Welker v. Law Office of Daniel J. Horwitz
626 F.Supp.2d 1068 – S.D. Cal. 2009

source

 

Federal SLAPP Cases Decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Batzel v. Smith
9th Circuit, 2003
333 F.3d 1018

 

Smith, a contractor hired by Batzel at her home, saw numerous “older European” paintings on Batzel’s walls and thought he overheard her say she was the granddaughter of one of Hitler’s deputies. He sent an e-mail to an agency involved in tracking down artwork stolen by the Nazis, and the agency posted the e-mail on its website. Batzel sued Smith and the director of the agency, Ton Cremers, for defamation. Cremers filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint, arguing that the plaintiff was not likely to prevail on her complaint, as required by the anti-SLAPP statute, because he was exempt from liability for reposting Smith’s e-mail on the Internet under 47 U.S.C. 230 — a part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that sets limitations on liability under state law for postings on the Internet. The motion was denied by the district court on the grounds that section 230 did not apply to Cremers’ in this case. The 9th Circuit panel holds, as a threshold matter, that denial of an anti-SLAPP motion is an immediately appealable “final decision” in federal court under 28 U.S.C. 1291. “Because California law recognizes the protection of the anti-SLAPP statute as a substantive immunity from suit, this court … will do so as well.” (Cf. United States, ex rel. Newsham et al. v. Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. below.) The court disagrees with the district court’s interpretation of section 230, vacates the district court’s denial of the special motion to strike, and remands for further hearings on questions of fact in light of its interpretation of section 230.

Bosley Medical Institute v. Kremer
9th Circuit, 2005
403 F.3d 672

After Kremer became dissatisfied with hair restoration provided by Bosley, he started a website to criticize the service. Because the website address was “BosleyMedical.com,” Bosley sued Kremer for trademark infringement and cybersquatting under the federal Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Kremer filed an anti-SLAPP motion against Bosley’s state-law trademark claims. The district court granted the motion but the appellate court reverses. “An infringement lawsuit by a trademark owner over a defendant’s unauthorized use of the mark as his domain name does not necessarily impair the defendant’s free speech rights.” The court concludes that while a summary judgment motion might have been appropriate, an anti-SLAPP motion was not.

Breazeale v. Victim Services, Inc.
9th Circuit, 2017
878 F.3d 759

CoreCivic v. Candide Group
9th Circuit, 2022
46 F.4th 1136

Davis v. Electronic Arts, Inc.
9th Circuit, 2015
775 F.3d 1172

DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corp.
9th Circuit, 2013
706 F.3d 1009

Doe v. Gangland Productions, Inc.
9th Circuit, 2013
730 F.3d 946

EHM Productions, Inc. v. Starline Tours of Hollywood, Inc.
9th Circuit, 2021
1 F.4th 1164

Estate of Tucker ex rel. Tucker v. Interscope Records, Inc.
9th Circuit, 2008
515 F.3d 1019

Fabbrini v. City of Dunsmuir
9th Circuit, 2011
631 F.3d 1299

Falck Northern California Corp. v. Scott Griffith Collaborative Solutions, LLC
9th Circuit, 2022
25 F.4th 763

Graham-Sult v. Clainos
9th Circuit, 2013
738 F.3d 1131

Graham-Sult v. Clainos
9th Circuit, 2014
756 F.3d 724

Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, Inc. v. CNN, Inc.
9th Circuit, 2014
742 F.3d 414

Greensprings Baptist Christian Fellowship Trust v. Cilley
9th Circuit, 2010
629 F.3d 1064

Herring Networks, Inc. v. Maddow
9th Circuit, 2021
8 F.4th 1148

Hilton v. Hallmark Cards
9th Circuit, 2010
599 F.3d. 894

Hyan v. Hummer
9th Circuit, 2016
825 F.3d 1043

Jordan-Benel v. Universal City Studios, Inc.
9th Circuit, 2017
859 F.3d 1184

Kearney v. Foley & Lardner, LLP
9th Circuit, 2009
590 F.3d 638

Keller v. Electronic Arts Inc. (In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litig.)
9th Circuit, 2013
724 F.3d 1268

Makaeff v. Trump University, LLC
9th Circuit, 2013
715 F.3d 254
736 F.3d 1180

Maloney v. T3Media, Inc.
9th Circuit, 2017
853 F.3d 1004

Manufactured Home Communities, Inc. v. County of San Diego
9th Circuit, 2011
655 F.3d 1171

Manufactured Home Communities., Inc. v. County of San Diego
9th Circuit, 2008
544 F.3d 959

Manzari v. Associated Newspapers Ltd.
9th Circuit, 2016
830 F.3d 881

Metabolife International, Inc. v. Wornick
9th Circuit, 2001
264 F.3d 832

In this lengthy and complex opinion (including a partial dissent) the court reverses in part and affirms in part the judgment of the district court (see district court decision). The district court had ruled that certain expert testimony on behalf of Metabolife could not be admitted; as a result, Metabolife was unable to demonstrate a probability of prevailing on its claims for defamation and trade libel, and therefore the court granted the anti-SLAPP motions of all defendants. The appellate court reverses the district court’s decision to exclude the expert testimony because it found the reasons cited by the district court constitute abuse of discretion. In the court’s view, admitting the expert evidence would not enhance the ability of Metabolife to prevail on its claims against one defendant, a professor of medicine, and therefore the court affirms the decision to grant that defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion. However, as to the other defendants — a TV reporter and her broadcaster — the court reverses the decision to grant their anti-SLAPP motions on the grounds that their edited broadcast of the professor’s statements about Metabolife failed to qualify as “protected speech” under the First Amendment because they deleted crucial qualifiers from the original statement. In its opinion the court rules that the discovery-limiting provision of the anti-SLAPP statute (Section 425.16, subd. g) conflicts with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f), and therefore cannot be applied in federal court. The dissent points out that, despite the general prohibition, the state statute nevertheless allows a judge to permit discovery “for good cause” and therefore does not conflict with the federal rule.

Mindys Cosmetics, Inc. v. Dakar
9th Circuit, 2010
611 F.3d 590

PLANET AID, INC. v. REVEAL, CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE  REPORTING
(August 11, 2022, No. 21-15690)

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. v. Center for Medical
Progress

9th Circuit, 2018
890 F.3d 828

Price v. Stossel
9th Circuit, 2010
620 F.3d 992

Roberts v. McAfee, Inc.
9th Circuit, 2010
660 F.3d 1156

Safari Club International v. Rudolph
9th Circuit, 2017
862 F.3d 1113

Sarver v. Chartier
9th Circuit, 2016
813 F.3d 891

Thomas v. Fry’s Electronics, Inc.
9th Circuit, 2005
400 F.3d 1206

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Swierkiewicz v. Sorema (2002) does not undermine the court’s earlier decision in United States, ex rel. Newsham et al. v. Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. (see below) that the California anti-SLAPP motion to strike and entitlement to fees and costs are available in federal court.

Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America v. Hirsh
9th Circuit, 2016
831 F.3d 1179

United States, ex rel. Newsham v. Lockheed Missiles and Space Co.
9th Circuit, 1999
190 F.3d 963

In a case of first impression the court holds that subdivisions (b) and (c) of the California anti-SLAPP statute do not conflict directly with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and thus are applicable in federal diversity actions.

Verizon Delaware, Inc. v. Covad Communications Co.
9th Circuit, 2004
377 F.3d 1081

Verizon, as “incumbent local exchange carrier,” had several interconnection agreements with Covad, a competitive carrier. Verizon sued Covad for fraud, alleging that Covad had issued false “trouble tickets” as part of a scheme to reduce its own service costs. Covad asserted counterclaims. The district court granted summary judgment for defendant Covad on Verizon’s claims and summary judgment for Verizon on Covad’s counterclaims. Defendants filed special motions to strike Verizon’s original complaint under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, but the court granted Verizon leave to amend its complaint and deferred ruling on the motions to strike pending receipt of the amended complaint. The court then denied the motions to strike based on an analysis of the amended complaint. Both parties appealed the summary judgments; Covad appealed the denial of the anti-SLAPP motion. The appellate court affirms the district court’s denial of the anti-SLAPP motion on the grounds that “granting a defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion to strike a plaintiff’s initial complaint without granting the plaintiff leave to amend would directly collide with Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)’s policy favoring liberal amendment.”

Vess v. Ciba-Geigy Corp.
9th Circuit, 2003
317 F.3d 1097

Plaintiffs filed a class action against a drug manufacturer, the American Psychiatric Assn. (APA), and Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), alleging that they promoted sales of Ritalin (used to treat hyperactivity) in violation of California’s unfair business practice laws. Each defendant filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rules of Procedure as well as an anti-SLAPP motion. The district court declined to rule on the anti-SLAPP motions before it had ruled on the motions to dismiss, deeming such motions premature. The district court first granted all of the motions to dismiss and then granted all of the anti-SLAPP motions. The appellate court agrees with the district court’s approach to ruling on the motions. It affirms the ruling on the anti-SLAPP motions of APA and CHADD on the grounds that the plaintiffs’ causes of action arise from speech protected by the First Amendment and plaintiffs had not demonstrated a probability of prevailing on their claims as required by the anti-SLAPP statute. With respect to the drug manufacturer, however, because the court reverses the district court’s dismissal of the complaint, it also reverses the grant of that defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion. (See also DuPont Merck Pharm. Co. v. Superior Court, California Court of Appeal, 4th District.)

Zamani v. Carnes
9th Circuit, 2007
491 F.3d 990

Bankruptcy Courts

Restaino v. Bah
U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Ninth Circuit, 2005
321 B.R. 41

Held: California’s anti-SLAPP statute is applicable in bankruptcy cases involving both federal questions and pendant state-law claims. The court agrees with the court in Globetrotter Software v. Elan Computer Group, Globetrotter v. Rainbow Technologies, Inc. (U.S. Dist. Ct. for No. Cal.; see above) that the anti-SLAPP statute is applicable to state-law claims but not to federal questions.

source

 


Lead Article: Application of State Anti-SLAPP Laws in Federal Court

I.  Introduction

Currently, more than 30 states have adopted laws aimed to protect First Amendment rights from so-called “SLAPP” suits.  SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” and SLAPP suits are lawsuits intended to silence or suppress free speech and other constitutionally protected activities.  A classic example of a SLAPP suit would be an oil company suing an environmental non-profit for defamation after the non-profit accused the oil company of being a polluter.

Additionally, several states have recently also passed or introduced legislation seeking to expand protections against SLAPP suits.  In New York, a broadened anti-SLAPP statute was enacted on November 11, 2020.  Washington state passed a new anti-SLAPP law on May 21, 2021 (SB 5009), with the state legislatures of Missouri (HB 1151), Kentucky (HB 1321), Indiana (HB 1459), and Iowa (HF 456) also looking to pass new anti-SLAPP legislation.

Conversely, although an increasing number of states have adopted anti-SLAPP laws, federal courts remain split on the issue of whether state anti-SLAPP laws are applicable in federal courts.  A number of federal district and appellate courts have reached inconsistent holdings as to whether pleading requirements of state anti-SLAPP laws conflict with those of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  Because the implications of these inconsistencies are broad and far-reaching, this article analyzes (i) the background of and recent developments relating to California’s anti-SLAPP statute; (ii) the recent adoption and development of anti-SLAPP legislation in other states; and, (iii) the split among federal courts as to the applicability of state anti-SLAPP laws.

 

II.  California’s Anti-SLAPP Statute and Recent Developments

A.  Unique Procedural Mechanisms Available Under California’s Anti-SLAPP Statute

As a means to combat nuisance lawsuits that are intended to chill free speech, state legislatures have introduced legislation offering increased protection from those suits.  California became the first state to introduce anti-SLAPP legislation in 1992, and by far has the most robust body of anti-SLAPP case law.  California’s anti-SLAPP law provides for a “screening mechanism” by which the plaintiff who brings an action arising out of protected speech or petition activity, at the outset of the SLAPP suit, must “make a prima facie showing [verified under oath] which would, if proved at trial, support a judgment in [the plaintiff’s] favor.” Wilcox v. Super. Ct., 27 Cal. App. 4th 809, 823 (1994); Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16(b)(1).  Specifically, once the moving defendant has demonstrated that the plaintiff’s cause of action arises from “protected” speech or activity, “the burden shifts to the plaintiff to establish a probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim.”  Kyle v. Carmon, 71 Cal. App. 4th 901, 907 (1999).

This screening process, in effect, functions much like a motion for summary judgment, with the defendant being able to challenge the merits of a plaintiff’s case.  One difference, however, is that the filing of a motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute in California automatically stays discovery.  See Hewlett-Packard Co. v. Oracle Corp., 239 Cal. App. 4th 1174, 1185 (2015); Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16(g). Another difference is that, unlike a motion for summary judgment, an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss places the burden on a plaintiff to demonstrate that they possess a “legally sufficient claim which is ‘substantiated,’ that is, supported by competent, admissible evidence.”  College Hospital v. Super. Ct., 8 Cal. 4th 704, 718-719 (1994).  If plaintiff is unable to satisfy their burden, then defendant is entitled to dismissal of the SLAPP suit, and an award of the attorneys’ fees and legal costs incurred defending the action.  See Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope & Opportunity, 19 Cal. 4th 1106, 1121-1123 (1999); Church of Scientology v. Wollersheim, 42 Cal. App. 4th 628, 644 (1996); Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16(c).  This “reverse” standard, which  places the burden of proof on the plaintiff is intended to (1) allow defendants to obtain quick dismissals of claims arising out of certain “protected” activities, enumerated in California’s anti-SLAPP statute; and (2) discourage lawsuits filed with the intent to chill free speech (i.e. First Amendment-related conduct) by imposing the threat of significant legal fees and costs required to successfully oppose the motion so early in litigation (as well as the risk of paying for the other party’s legal fees and costs).

In addition, unlike with a motion for summary judgment, a defendant is entitled to an automatic right of appeal for the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion, and a stay of all trial court proceedings affected by the motion.  Hewlett-Packard, 239 Cal. App. 4th at 1185-86.  “This means that however unsound an anti-SLAPP motion may be, it will typically stop the entire lawsuit dead in its tracks until an appellate court completes its review.”  Id. at 1185.  Because of the heightened protections for defendants bringing motions to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute, these motions are subject to potential abuse.  As one appellate court has discussed, the statute provides a “free time-out” from further litigation in Court “by entitling the unsuccessful movant to immediately appeal the denial of such a motion,” even a relatively weak motion “which wholly lacks any merit.” Id. at 1184-85.

B.  Elements of a Motion To Strike Under Section 425.16(b)

California courts apply a two-pronged test in evaluating whether to grant an anti-SLAPP motion to strike.  Under the first prong, defendant must establish that the activity giving rise to a plaintiff’s suit arises from one of the following four specific categories that the California legislature defines as “protected” activity:

  1. Any written or oral statement or writing made before a legislative, executive or judicial proceeding, or any other official proceeding authorized by law.
  2. Any written or oral statement or writing made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive or judicial body, or any other official proceeding authorized by law.
  3. Any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest.
  4. Any other conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition or the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest.

 

If the defendant establishes that a claim arises out of protected activity, then the burden shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate the claim contains minimal merit.  If the plaintiff does not, the claim will be dismissed.

California courts have broadly construed these areas of protected activity.  For example, in Wilson v. CNN, the California Supreme Court recently observed that “to insulate the exercise of free speech rights against chilling  litigation, the Legislature has defined protected activity to  include not only the act of speaking, but ‘any other conduct in furtherance of the exercise of constitutional speech rights on matters of public interest.’”  Wilson v. Cable News Network, Inc., 7 Cal. 5th 871, 893 (2019).  (Interestingly enough, though, on July 29, 2021 the California Supreme Court drew a line between speech, which it considered protected, and actions arising from the speech, which it considered to be unprotected—thereby limiting the scope of § 425.16(b).  Bonni v. St. Joseph Health Sys., 11 Cal. 5th 995, 1026 (2021).)  The breadth of anti-SLAPP statutes across states vary, but like California’s statute, most other anti-SLAPP laws provide defendants with protections for speech made in any forum, as well as a mandatory award of costs and attorney fees for successful defendants.  Most, but not all, states with anti-SLAPP legislation explicitly grant protection for speech made in connection with any issue of public interest or concern.  Moreover, states are increasingly reforming and broadening the scope of anti-SLAPP legislature; New York, for example, recently updated its anti-SLAPP statute to grant protection for “any communications in a public place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest.”

III.  Federal Courts Wrestle with Applicability of Anti-SLAPP Laws

Federal courts are in conflict on whether state anti-SLAPP laws provide primarily substantive, or procedural remedies.  If considered procedural, anti-SLAPP laws would conflict with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and therefore be inapplicable in federal court.  For more than two decades, the Ninth Circuit has held that the California anti-SLAPP law is primarily substantive and therefore does apply in federal court.  See, e.g.United States ex rel. Newsham v. Lockheed Missiles & Space Co., 190 F.3d 963, 972 (9th Cir. 1999) (noting that California’s anti-SLAPP statute and the Federal Rules “can exist side by side . . .  without conflict”) (quotation omitted).

Recently, however, the Second Circuit held that California’s anti-SLAPP statute did not apply in federal court.  See La Liberte v. Reid, 966 F.3d 79, 87-88 (2d Cir. 2020).  There, the Court held that California’s anti-SLAPP statute was inapplicable in federal court because it conflicts with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12 and 56.  Id.  According to the Second Circuit, the question that federal courts must answer in deciding whether state anti-SLAPP statutes apply in federal courts is “whether ‘a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure answer[s] the same question as the [special motion to strike].’”  Id. at 87 (quoting Abbas v. Foreign Policy Grp., LLC, 783 F.3d 1328, 1333  (D.C. Cir. 2015) (alteration in original)).  If so, the Federal Rule governs, unless it violates the Rules Enabling Act.  Id.

The Second Circuit’s La Liberte decision heavily relied on the Eleventh Circuit’s recent holding in Carbone v. Cable News NetworkInc. that the pleading standard set forth by California’s anti-SLAPP statute “abrogates [the already-established federal court pre-trial pleading] entitlement . . . by requiring the plaintiff to establish that success is not merely plausible but probable.”  Carbone v. Cable News NetworkInc., 910 F.3d 1345, 1353 (11th Cir. 2018).  The Carbone decision also found that California’s anti-SLAPP statute conflicted with Federal Rule 56, which permits summary judgment only if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”  Id.

The Ninth Circuit, however, remains unpersuaded by the other circuits.  In Clifford v. Trump, the Ninth Circuit held that Texas’s anti-SLAPP law did in fact apply in federal court.  Clifford v. Trump, 818 Fed. App’x 746, 747 (9th Cir. 2020).  The court held that there was no contradiction with state and federal law.  That decision contradicted a recent Fifth Circuit ruling in Klocke v. Watson, where the court  held “that the TCPA does not apply to diversity cases in federal court.”  Klocke v. Watson, 936 F.3d 240, 242 (5th Cir. 2019).  Specifically, the Fifth Circuit’s analysis focused on whether the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [and Texas’s anti-SLAPP statute] “‘answer the same question’ when each specifies requirements for a case to proceed at the same stage of litigation.”  Id. at 245.  The Fifth Circuit opined that Texas’s anti-SLAPP statute and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Nos. 12 and 56 do in fact answer the same question, namely “the circumstances under which a court must dismiss a case before trial.”  Id.  The court also found that Texas’s anti-SLAPP statute imposed “additional procedural requirements not found in the federal rules.”  Id.  “Because the [Texas anti-SLAPP statute’s] burden-shifting framework imposes additional requirements beyond those found in [the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure] 12 and 56 and answers the same question as those rules, the state law cannot apply in federal court.”  Id.  The court in Clifford addressed this contradiction, noting “[T]he reasoning of the Fifth Circuit’s opinion cannot be reconciled with our circuit’s anti-SLAPP precedent, compare Newsham, 190 F.3d at 972 (‘[T]here is no indication that [Federal Rules of Civil Procedure] 8, 12, and 56 were intended to ‘occupy the field’ with respect to pretrial procedures aimed at weeding out meritless claims.’) with Klocke, 936 F.3d at 247 (‘Rules 8, 12, and 56 provide a comprehensive framework governing pretrial dismissal and judgment.’).”  Clifford, 818 Fed. App’x at 747.  The court in Clifford further reasoned that they were bound to follow their own precedent – which “required [the court] to apply the [The Texas Citizens Participation Act],” commonly referred to as the Texas anti-SLAPP statute.  Id.

A similar split exists amongst U.S. District Courts, which have, in the past several years, issued a string of inconsistent rulings as to whether state anti-SLAPP statutes apply in federal diversity cases.  Compare Harrington v. Hall Cnty. Bd. of Supervisors, 2016 WL 1274534 (D. Neb. Mar. 31, 2016) (finding a statute providing for attorneys’ fees and costs under Nebraska’s anti-SLAPP statute substantive, and therefore consistent with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, thereby allowing for the filing of a motion for attorneys’ fees under the state anti-SLAPP statute), with Unity Healthcare, Inc. v. Cnty. of Hennepin, 308 F.R.D. 537 (D. Minn. 2015) (finding that Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP statute was inapplicable because it conflicted with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56), appeal dismissed, 2016 WL 11339506 (8th Cir. 2016).

These split decisions within the federal courts have led to further confusion and continued forum shopping – which courts may find objectionable, principally, because such “shopping” between courts may offend traditional notions of justice and, as a practical matter, deference to particular courts over others may result in a backlog of cases in these same courts, thereby delaying the timely dispensation of justice in non-related cases.

IV.  Conclusion

Amid all of this confusion at the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court has, surprisingly, refused to weigh in on the controversy.  Rather, the Supreme Court has persistently refused to hear cases involving state anti-SLAPP laws.  See, e.g., Yagman v. Edmondson, 723 Fed. App’x 463 (9th Cir. 2018), cert. denied, 139 S. Ct. 823 (2019); Planned Parenthood Fed’n of Am., Inc. v. Ctr. for Med. Progress, 897 F.3d 1224 (9th Cir. 2018), cert. denied, 139 S. Ct. 1446 (2019). As recently as February 2021, the Supreme Court again refused to address the issue, denying review in the Clifford v. Trump case, which presented the conflict between the Ninth Circuit and the Fifth Circuit’s holdings on the applicability of Texas’s anti-SLAPP law in federal diversity actions.  It should therefore be expected that federal courts will continue to issue inconsistent rulings on the matter, leading to further forum shopping, as state legislatures continue to adopt more and broader anti-SLAPP legislature, thereby giving rise to a greater number of anti-SLAPP motions being brought in federal diversity cases.source