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Los Angeles Lawyer
The Magazine of the Los Angeles County Bar Association


September 2003 Vol. 26, No. 6

 

 
 

MCLE Article: Back SLAPP

Has the development of anti-SLAPP law turned the statute into a tool to be used against the very parties it was intended to protect?

By Edward P. Sangster

Edward P. Sangster is a partner with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP in the firm's San Francisco office. His practice concentrates on the litigation of complex business and environmental disputes.

 
 


By reading this article and answering the accompanying test questions
, you can earn one MCLE credit. To apply for credit, please follow the instructions on the test.

 
 

California's anti-SLAPP statute1 permits a defendant to file a special motion to strike a suit filed primarily to chill the defendant’s exercise of First Amendment rights. The legislature enacted the anti-SLAPP statute to prevent wealthy or powerful parties from using the enormous costs of litigation to suppress opposition or unfavorable public debate.

 

Since the passage of the statute, however, the legislature and several subsequent California Supreme Court decisions have broadened its application substantially--and this has had a significant impact on the type of anti-SLAPP motions that are currently being pursued. Indeed, recent appellate court decisions reveal that large and sophisticated litigants now invoke a statute originally designed to protect nonprofit organizations and common citizens. A credit reporting agency, an insurance company, a drug manufacturer, a dental trade association, a political action committee, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association have recently employed the anti-SLAPP statute with varying degrees of success. The anti-SLAPP statute is also being used against individuals and nonprofit organizations--the types of litigants that the drafters of the anti- SLAPP statute were trying to protect. As a result, some believe that the anti-SLAPP statute has itself become a tool for suppressing constitutional rights.

 

The prospects for pending legislation to exempt public interest litigation from the scope of the anti-SLAPP statute remain uncertain. For now, all types of litigants will continue to use the anti-SLAPP statute. The term "SLAPP"--Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation2--originated from observations that powerful interests were using the expense of litigation to punish their opponents. According to one commentator, "[W]hile SLAPP suits ‘masquerade as ordinary lawsuits’ the conceptual features which reveal them as SLAPPs are that they are generally meritless suits brought by large private interests to deter common citizens from exercising their political or legal rights or to punish them for doing so."3 The purpose of a SLAPP suit is not to win. SLAPPs smother opponents by forcing them to divert scarce time and money to the defense of litigation.4

 

Before the legislature enacted the anti-SLAPP statute, numerous commentators expressed concern that common law and existing statutory protections did nothing to deter SLAPPs. One of them noted that "[e]xisting remedies such as malicious prosecution often require defendants to go to trial and spend substantial amounts of money and time in order to prevail. Rather than incur the expense and the trauma, many citizens withdraw. Others, scared off by the threat of lawsuits, never enter the fray at all."5 In response to those concerns, the legislature enacted the anti-SLAPP statute in 1992, codified as Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16. The legislature included in the statute its findings 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."6 It therefore designed the anti-SLAPP statute "to provide an economical and expeditious remedy to SLAPP suits."7

 

Section 425.16(b)(1) provides that a defendant may move to strike "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 or California Constitution in connection with a public issue...."

 

Section 425.16(e) enumerates the acts protected by Section 425.16(b)(1):

 

1) Any oral or written statement made before a legislative, executive, or judicial proceeding, or other proceeding authorized by law; 2) any oral or written statement made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or other official proceeding authorized by law; 3) any oral or written statement made in a public place or 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 issue of public interest.

A motion to strike a SLAPP suit precipitates a two-prong test. The defendant must first show that the lawsuit is one "arising from" protected activity. If the defendant makes the requisite showing, then the trial court will strike the complaint unless the plaintiff can demonstrate a probability of succeeding on the claim.8 The standard for this second showing is "minimal merit."9

 

Conflicts Regarding Scope

 

Early cases adopted varying interpretations of the scope of the anti-SLAPP statute. The court in Wilcox v. Superior Court10 started the judicial debate in 1994 by interpreting the statute broadly. The plaintiffs in Wilcox--court reporters who brought an unfair business practices suit against other court reporters-- alleged that the defendants' practice of "direct contracting"11 was unlawful. The defendants filed a cross- complaint for defamation and conspiracy to restrain trade, alleging that the plaintiffs defamed them in communications with other court reporters regarding the lawsuit. The plaintiffs moved to strike, arguing that the cross-complaint was a SLAPP. The court of appeal held that filing and supporting litigation were acts protected by the First Amendment. It further ruled that the communications "were clearly made in connection with" the judicial challenge to direct contracting and were "rationally connected to the litigation itself."12 Accordingly, the court of appeal held that the cross-complaint was a SLAPP and ordered that it be stricken.

 

Church of Scientology v. Wollersheim13 expanded upon Wilcox. The Church of Scientology filed an action alleging that defendant Wollersheim had procured an earlier judgment against the Church of Scientology through fraud. In response to Wollersheim's motion to strike, the Church of Scientology argued that the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply because, among other things, Wollersheim's earlier tort complaint was not a matter of public interest. The court held that the anti-SLAPP statute applied to "all kinds of claims [that] could achieve the objective of a SLAPP suit--to interfere with and burden the defendant's exercise of his or her rights."14

 

Shortly thereafter, in Beilenson v. Superior Court,15 a politician defeated in an election sued the winner, contending that the winner had defamed him in election literature. When the defendant moved to strike, the plaintiff argued that the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply to political campaigns. He argued that "the statute was designed to protect those ordinary citizens who find themselves sued in retaliation for the exercise of their rights under the First Amendment (e.g., homeowners who challenge developers)."16 The court of appeal held that "the statute does not limit its application to certain types of petition activity."17 Within months after the decisions in Church of Scientology and Beilenson, however, the court of appeal in Zhao v. Wong18 departed from the broad application of the statute. In Zhao, the plaintiff filed an action arising from an allegedly slanderous press interview regarding a highly publicized, mysterious death and ensuing will contest. The court of appeal concluded that the statute only protected activities relating to issues of "public significance" or "public interest" and that the press interview did not qualify. Several cases decided shortly thereafter also limited the anti-SLAPP statute to issues of public interest and public significance.19

 

Against this background of conflicting jurisprudence, the legislature amended the anti-SLAPP statute in 1997. One of the otherwise minor amendments provided that the statute "shall be construed broadly."20 Zhao and its progeny, which had narrowly construed the statute, apparently prompted that amendment.21 That legislative change influenced the California Supreme Court in 1999 to resolve the conflicting lines of cases by eliminating the public interest requirement, at least in connection with matters under consideration in an official proceeding. In Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity,22 landlords sued a nonprofit organization that provided counseling, mediation, and referral services to tenants involved in disputes with their landlords. The landlords alleged that the nonprofit had defamed them in several instances, including a statement to an investigator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and advice given to a tenant in connection with the tenant's suit against the tenant's landlord. The California Supreme Court held that "a defendant moving to strike a cause of action arising from a statement made before, or in connection with an issue under consideration by, a legally authorized official proceeding need not separately demonstrate that the statement concerned an issue of public significance."23

 

Even after Briggs, plaintiffs opposing motions to strike successfully argued to impose distinct proof requirements not contained in the statute itself. In Paul for Council v. Hanyecz,24 for example, the plaintiff was an election committee that alleged the defendants violated election laws by laundering campaign contributions to an opponent.25 The court of appeal held that the anti-SLAPP statute did not protect the defendants’ illegal activities, because those activities did not constitute a valid exercise of First Amendment rights.26 In so ruling, however, the court of appeal used language that appeared to impose a separate proof requirement on a defendant bringing an anti-SLAPP motion: "[D]efendants have not shown that plaintiff’s suit was brought primarily to chill a valid exercise of their constitutional rights...."27

 

Plaintiffs subsequently seized on the "intent to chill" language in Paul for Council as creating a new proof requirement. That led the California Supreme Court to issue rulings in four SLAPP cases during August 2002 that clarified, and in some respects significantly changed, anti-SLAPP litigation.

 

Reshaping Anti-SLAPP Litigation

 

In the first of the four cases, the supreme court addressed the procedural requirements for establishing whether a lawsuit has minimal merit. Ruling on August 1 on the standard of proof required to defeat a motion to strike, the court, in Wilson v. Parker,28 held that in order to show a probability that the plaintiff will prevail, the plaintiff must state and substantiate a legally sufficient claim.29 According to Wilson, "[T]he plaintiff 'must demonstrate that the complaint is both legally sufficient and supported by a sufficient prima facie showing of facts to sustain a favorable judgment if the evidence submitted by the plaintiff is credited.'"30

 

In three companion cases decided on August 29, 2002, the supreme court went to the heart of the issue of the expanded use of the anti-SLAPP statute. In the first of the cases, Equilon Enterprises, LLC v. Consumer Cause, Inc.,31 an oil company sued a consumer group as a result of "notices of intent to sue" that the group served pursuant to Proposition 65.32 The oil company filed a preemptive action seeking a declaration that the notices of intent to sue were invalid as well as an injunction barring the group from filing litigation based on the allegedly defective notices. The defendant moved to strike the complaint, arguing that it was a SLAPP. The trial court granted the motion, and the court of appeal affirmed. The supreme court granted review.

 

Equilon argued that the anti-SLAPP statute could not apply unless its lawsuit was intended to chill the exercise of First Amendment rights by Consumer Cause. The supreme court rejected the argument and held that a defendant did not need to prove that a SLAPP had been filed with the intent to chill the defendant’s First Amendment rights in order for a court to strike the complaint.33

 

The second companion case, City of Cotati v. Cashman,34 involved a previously filed federal court action by Cashman seeking a declaration on the constitutionality of a mobile home rent control ordinance. The city of Cotati reactively sued Cashman in superior court, conceding that it had done so in order to obtain a more favorable forum. Cashman moved to strike the state court complaint, contending that it was a SLAPP filed because of his federal litigation. The trial court granted the motion to strike the complaint, but the court of appeal reversed, and the supreme court granted review.

The supreme court first addressed conflicting evidence regarding whether the city had intended to chill Cashman’s exercise of his right to file the federal court litigation. The timing of the city’s filing obviously suggested that the city had acted in response to Cashman’s federal litigation. The supreme court held that the city’s intent was irrelevant, however, because under Equilon the defendant did not need to prove that the complaint had been filed with an intent to chill First Amendment rights.35

 

Next the supreme court addressed whether the city's complaint was "arising from" Cashman's protected activity. The mere fact that the city's litigation was responsive to Cashman's, or constituted an "oppressive" litigation tactic, was not sufficient.36 Instead, the supreme court held that "the critical point is whether the plaintiff's cause of action itself was based on an act in furtherance of the defendant's right of petition or free speech."37 The supreme court reasoned that both the city and Cashman had filed cases concerning an identical dispute. Thus, the city's case arose from the dispute, not from Cashman's protected act in filing the federal court litigation.38 Based on this reasoning, the supreme court held that the statute was inapplicable and affirmed the court of appeal's conclusion that the defendant's motion should have been denied.

 

The last in the trio of cases, Navellier v. Sletten, complemented Cashman's discussion of the "arising from" requirement39--but did so in a way that may ultimately discourage the filing of legitimate, albeit novel, claims. Navellier had filed an action against Sletten and others in federal court arising from disputes concerning the management of an investment fund, including the defendants' decision to terminate Navellier's role as adviser to the fund. The parties reached an agreement during federal court litigation in which Navellier would return to the fund as the investment adviser, and Sletten would release all claims against Navellier. The agreement did not resolve the litigation, however. Navellier filed an amended complaint, and Sletten filed a counterclaim, alleging claims arising from the failure by Navellier to procure a trustee's errors and omissions policy.40 The district court ultimately dismissed Sletten's counterclaim, finding in pertinent part that Sletten's release barred his counterclaim. After trial in which a verdict for the defense was reached on Navellier's amended complaint, Navellier appealed.

 

However, right before appealing the federal court judgment, Navellier sued Sletten in state court, alleging that Sletten had committed fraud in misrepresenting his intention to be bound by the release. Sletten moved to strike what he contended was a SLAPP. The trial court denied his motion and the court of appeal affirmed. The supreme court granted review and reversed in a 4-3 decision.

 

The supreme court emphatically rejected the argument that the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply to a "garden variety breach of contract and fraud claim."41 Instead, the court held that Sletten had met his threshold burden of proving that the state court action arose from his constitutionally protected right to sue in federal court.

 

As the majority noted, the fact that the plaintiff satisfied the threshold requirement did not require that the complaint be stricken. The court instead remanded the case for a consideration whether the "fraud and contract claims have the minimal merit required to survive an anti-SLAPP motion."42 In response to concerns by the dissent, the majority said that its decision protected appropriate remedies for breach of contract involving constitutionally protected activity by ensuring that claims "with requisite minimal merit may proceed."43

 

The dissent, written by Justice Brown with the concurrence of Justices Baxter and Chin, attacked both conclusions. First, the dissenting justices argued that Sletten had "traded his right to engage in specified First Amendment activity (litigating) in exchange for consideration," and that "his suit was not what section 425.16--characterizes as a 'valid exercise' of his right to petition."44 Second, the dissenters argued that evaluating the complaint under a second-prong minimal merit analysis "amounts to a rewriting of California summary judgment law in a way that significantly disadvantages plaintiffs."45 Contrary to protecting First Amendment rights, the dissenters argued that:

 

[The financial penalties associated with losing a motion to strike] will chill the right to petition, which the anti-SLAPP law was designed to protect. Parties with novel claims will now confront two layers of uncertainty: whether the court will deem the claim as arising from a former suit and whether the court will find a probability of success. Unfavorable findings to these questions will prove costly. Many parties, especially those with limited resources, will hesitate to file under these conditions.46

 

These financial penalties stem from the fact that the anti-SLAPP statute contains a lopsided attorney's fee provision. The trial court must award attorney's fees to a prevailing defendant but may only award attorney's fees to a prevailing plaintiff if the motion was frivolous or solely for the purpose of delay.47

 

A SLAPP for Everyone

 

Whether it was the cluster of supreme court decisions, the elimination of the public interest and intent to chill requirements, application of the anti-SLAPP statute to a "garden variety breach of contract and fraud claim," or simply a dawning awareness of the available remedies, it is clear that something has galvanized the increasing use of the statute.

 

In the dissent in Navellier, Justice Brown stated that "the cure has become the disease--SLAPP motions are now just the latest form of abusive litigation."48 This sentiment was echoed by the title of a continuing legal education program hosted this year by the Bar Association of San Francisco: "Getting SLAPPed Around: Has the Anti-SLAPP Statute Become a Monster?"49 A Westlaw search reveals that appellate courts have issued almost 125 published and unpublished decisions in appeals of SLAPP cases since August 29, 2002, when the supreme court decided Equilon, Cashman, and Navellier. Recent published cases show how large, well-funded litigants are using the broad construction of the anti-SLAPP statute to try to fend off suits by nonprofit, public interest groups.

 

The most startling example is Yu v. Signet Bank/Virginia.50 In Yu, California credit card holders brought claims for abuse of process and unfair business practices against Virginia banks that obtained default judgments against them in Virginia debt collection actions. After an earlier appeal in which a summary judgment for the banks had been reversed, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. The trial court sustained the bank’s demurrer without leave to amend and denied its motion to strike as moot. The court of appeal reversed the order sustaining the demurrer, so it considered the merits of the motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute. Regarding the first prong of the anti-SLAPP test, the court of appeal found that the banks had proven that their conduct was privileged under the First Amendment. Noting the turnabout, the court of appeal stated: "It is ironic that a lawsuit challenging distant forum abuse--a practice calculated to prevent the Yus’ 'public participation' in the collection action against them--should itself meet the threshold definition of a SLAPP suit, but that is the result under the anti-SLAPP statute."51 Despite the fact that the anti-SLAPP statute applied, the court found that the trial court should have nonetheless denied the motion because the plaintiffs had met their burden of showing that their case had minimal merit. Thus, the plaintiffs avoided losing the case and thereby subjecting themselves to liability for the banks' attorney's fees.

 

Consumers also narrowly defeated a motion to strike in Decker v. U.D. Registry, Inc.52 In Decker, the defendant collected and sold information about prospective residential tenants to landlords. The plaintiffs sued, alleging that the defendant had disseminated false, misleading, and inaccurate information about them. The reporting agency moved to strike, contending that the plaintiffs' action was a SLAPP. The trial court denied the motion--but not on the merits. Instead, the motion failed because the defendant had neglected to notice a timely hearing. The trial court also awarded attorney's fees to the plaintiffs. The court of appeal affirmed because the hearing was untimely, but in an indication of how precarious the outcome was for the plaintiffs, reversed the award of attorney's fees. The court of appeal held that the anti-SLAPP motion was neither frivolous nor totally without merit.53

 

More recently, an insurance company temporarily succeeded in striking a complaint and recovering substantial attorney’s fees in Gallimore v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Insurance Company. The insured in Gallimore had filed suit alleging unfair business practices in connection with the handling of Northridge earthquake damage claims. Because the complaint was based, and arose from, confidential reports that the insurer had filed with the California Department of Insurance, the insurer argued that the complaint was a SLAPP. The trial court granted the insurer’s motion to strike and awarded it $61,000 in attorney's fees. The court of appeal reversed, however, holding that the complaint was based upon the insurer's conduct in settling (or perhaps more accurately, not settling) earthquake claims, not the fact that it communicated information to the Department of Insurance.54

 

The litigation of political disputes now inevitably involves anti-SLAPP motions. For example, in Roberts v. Los Angeles County Bar Association,55 the Los Angeles County Bar Association used the anti-SLAPP statute to defeat a disgruntled judicial candidate’s complaint arising from her "not qualified" rating by the Association. In Governor Gray Davis Committee v. American Taxpayers Alliance,56 a taxpayers group used the anti-SLAPP statute to defeat a lawsuit by the governor's campaign committee. The lawsuit challenged an allegedly illegal, "campaign-style," "informational" advertisement.57

 

Litigants challenging advertising or public relations should always expect to draw a motion to strike. For example, in DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company v. Superior Court,58 a major drug manufacturer invoked the anti-SLAPP statute to defeat a class action regarding the drug company's public relations campaign about a generic alternative to Coumadin, the company's blood thinning drug. The plaintiffs had alleged that the drug company had made false and misleading statements to regulatory bodies, the medical profession, and the general public in order to prevent regulatory approval--or consumer acceptance in the event of approval--of the generic alternative. As to the defendant's communications with regulatory authorities, the court of appeal held that, following Briggs, the communications were protected activity. Regarding the defendant's communications with the medical profession and general public, the court of appeal held that the communications concerned a matter of public interest because the plaintiffs had alleged that 1.8 million people take Coumadin.59 Accordingly, the court of appeal directed the trial court to consider whether the plaintiffs could establish a probability of success.

 

Similarly, the California Dental Association recently used the anti-SLAPP statute to defeat a case involving multiple types of protected activity in connection with mercury amalgam fillings. In Kids Against Pollution v. California Dental Association,60 the plaintiff alleged that the California Dental Association had disseminated false and misleading information to dentists and the public concerning the risks of mercury amalgam and retaliated against dentists who disclosed the dangers to patients through enforcement of a "code of ethics." After the dental association filed its anti-SLAPP motion, the plaintiff withdrew its claim based on public advocacy. As to the plaintiff's claims based solely on enforcement of the dental association's ethical code, the court held that the activity was protected, and that the plaintiff had failed to submit sufficient evidence to show that the California Dental Association was enforcing the ethical code in an illegal manner. Accordingly, the court of appeal remanded with instructions to dismiss the action. However, in a case showing the limits of what constitutes "public interest," an herbal supplement corporation unsuccessfully invoked the anti-SLAPP statute to defend its advertisements for "Grobust," which the corporation touted as the "All-Natural Way To A Fuller, More Beautiful Bust!" The court of appeal held in Consumer Justice Center v. Trimedica International Inc. that, because the communications involved purely commercial speech and did not concern issues of public interest, the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply.61 The court of appeal distinguished the case from DuPont because DuPont's communications regarding Coumadin had constituted matters of public interest or significance.

 

That distinction shows how the public interest limitation remains determinative in cases challenging advertising, public relations, or other communications with the general public. Cases such as Briggs, which discarded the public interest requirement, involved communications with public officials concerning official proceedings. The supreme court reasoned that "any matter pending before an official proceeding possesses some measure of 'public significance' owing solely to the public nature of the proceeding...."62 Cases involving communications unrelated to official proceedings must be evaluated under the public interest requirement in Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16(e)(3) and (4).

 

Powerful Incentive

 

As the case law clearly indicates, motions to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute are no longer brought only to protect "the little guy." Sophisticated corporate defendants and trade associations now employ the anti- SLAPP statute as part of their defensive arsenal. While not all such attempts succeed, some do, and there have been some very close cases in which consumer plaintiffs narrowly escaped paying large attorney's fee awards.

 

The expanded use of the anti-SLAPP statute is in most respects natural and appropriate. Laws must protect everyone equally, and a law designed to protect "common citizens" must also protect large corporations and wealthy individuals. In the case of the anti-SLAPP statute, however, the legislature clearly had in mind a specific, abusive use of litigation--one that involved wealthy or powerful litigants--when it originally enacted the statute.63 Subsequent legislative amendments and case law have broadened the reach of the anti-SLAPP statute to the point in which any action based on slander, defamation, abuse of process, or malicious prosecution will likely draw an anti-SLAPP motion to strike. Similarly, almost any case based on public advocacy or interaction with governmental officials or the legislative process will be attacked.

 

For false advertising cases, the public interest requirement remains, but it has already proven difficult to apply. Recent cases demonstrate that a precise definition remains elusive, and, to some extent, arbitrary. For example, how could the court in Consumer Justice Center conclude that a nonsurgical alternative to breast enhancement was not a matter of public interest? How large must the advertising audience be before a plaintiff risks paying attorney’s fees as an anti-SLAPP sanction?

 

Given the broad scope of the anti-SLAPP statute, and examples such as Decker, it seems unlikely that attorney's fee awards against defendants will be upheld in any but the most frivolous of motions. In short, there is a powerful incentive to bring anti-SLAPP motions, and little downside risk. Considering a plaintiff's risk of incurring substantial attorney's fees for losing a motion to strike, one can question whether the concerns articulated in Justice Brown's dissent in Navellier64 have been, or shortly will be, realized. How many individuals or nonprofit organizations can afford the risk of a $60,000 attorney's fees award, such as the one in Gallimore? Will the broadened scope of the statute paradoxically chill the assertion of novel, untested claims by the types of plaintiffs the anti-SLAPP statute was originally conceived to protect?

 

At press time, the California Legislature was considering a bill that would sharply limit the circumstances under which commercial entities could move to strike complaints by consumers.65 The bill would exempt most actions brought on behalf of the general public, and, regardless of the identity of the plaintiff, would prevent companies engaged in the business of selling or leasing goods or services from invoking the anti- SLAPP statute in cases challenging "representations of fact" concerning their products.

 

Even if the bill becomes law, it will not completely eliminate the expanded use of the anti-SLAPP statute. The anti-SLAPP statute will continue to apply to "garden variety" claims. Furthermore, there will be considerable litigation to determine which plaintiffs are exempted from, and which defendants can bring, motions to strike.

 

Only one certainty exists. Until the legislature constricts its scope, every type of defendant will invoke the anti-SLAPP statute.

 
 

1 Code Civ. Proc. §425.16.
2 See Lafayette Morehouse, Inc. v. Chronicle Publ’g Co., 37 Cal. App. 4th 855, 858 (1995).
3 Wilcox v. Superior Court, 27 Cal. App. 4th 809, 816-17 (1994) (citing George W. Pring, SLAPPs: Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation, 7 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 3, 5-6, 9 (1989)).
4 Id. at 816-17 (citations omitted).
5 Barker, Common-Law and Statutory Solutions to the Problem of SLAPPs, 26 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 395, 450 (1993).
6 Code Civ. Proc. §425.16(a).
7 Church of Scientology v. Wollersheim, 42 Cal. App. 4th 628 n.3 (1996).
8 Code Civ. Proc. §425.16(b)(1); Equilon Enters., LLC v. Consumer Cause, Inc., 29 Cal. 4th 53, 67 (2002).
9 Navellier v. Sletten, 29 Cal. 4th 82, 89 (2002).
10 Wilcox v. Superior Court, 27 Cal. App. 4th 809 (1994).
11 "Direct contracting" is the practice whereby a certified shorthand reporter or association of reporters contracts with a major consumer, such as an insurance company, for the exclusive right to report depositions. Id. at 814.
12 Id. at 822-23.
13 Church of Scientology v. Wollersheim, 42 Cal. App. 4th 628 (1996).
14 Id. at 652.
15 Beilenson v. Superior Court, 44 Cal. App. 4th 944, 949 (1996).
16 Id.
17 Id. (emphasis added).
18 Zhao v. Wong, 48 Cal. App. 4th 1114 (1996).
19 Lindsco/Private Ledger v. Investors Arbitration Servs. Inc., 50 Cal. App. 4th 1633 (1996); Ericsson GE Mobile Communications, Inc. v. C.S.I. Telecomm. Eng’rs, 49 Cal. App. 4th 1591 (1996).
20 Code Civ. Proc. §425.16(a), as amended by 1997 Cal. Stat. ch. 271, §1.
21 See Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope & Opportunity, 19 Cal. 4th 1106, 1114 (1999).
22 Id.
23 Id. at 1123 (emphasis in original).
24 Paul for Council v. Hanyecz, 85 Cal. App. 4th 1356 (2001).
25 The defendants allegedly solicited $300 contributions from family members and then reimbursed them.
26 The court of appeal's decision was made easier by the defendants' concession that their activities were illegal. Had the legality of the activities been disputed, the plaintiff, in opposing the motion, would have been required to demonstrate a probability of success in proving the illegality of the activities. Paul for Council, 85 Cal. App. 4th at 1364.
27 Id. at 1367 (emphasis in original).
28 Wilson v. Parker, 28 Cal. 4th 811 (2002).
29 Id. at 821 (citing Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope & Opportunity, 19 Cal. 4th 1106, 1123 (1999)). 30 Id. (quoting Matson v. Dvorak, 40 Cal. App. 4th 539, 548 (1995)).
31 Equilon Enters., LLC v. Consumer Cause, Inc., 29 Cal. 4th 53 (2002).
32 Health & Safety Code §25249.7.
33 The supreme court overruled the numerous cases that appeared to impose an "intent to chill" requirement. Equilon, 29 Cal. 4th at 68 n.5.
34 City of Cotati v. Cashman, 29 Cal. 4th 69 (2002).
35 Id. at 75-76.
36 Id. at 78 (citing Kajima Eng’g & Constr., Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 95 Cal. App. 4th 921, 924 (2002)).
37 Id. (emphasis in original).
38 Id.
39 Navellier v. Sletten, 29 Cal. 4th 82 (2002).
40 The court’s decision fails to explain the nature of the claims in Navellier's amended complaint, or why the parties had entered into a partial settlement.
41 "When previously construing the statute--we have declined to hold 'that section 425.16 does not apply to events that transpire between private individuals.'" Navellier, 29 Cal. 4th at 90-91 (citing Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope & Opportunity, 19 Cal. 4th 1106, 1116 (1999)).
42 Id. at 95.
43 Id. at 94.
44 Id. at 98 (Brown, J., dissenting op.) (citing Church of Scientology v. Wollersheim, 42 Cal. App. 4th 628 (1996) and Paul for Council v. Hanyecz, 85 Cal. App. 4th 1356 (2001)).
45 Id. at 101.
46 Id. at 102.
47 Code Civ. Proc. §425.16(c).
48 Navellier, 29 Cal. 4th at 96 (Brown, J., dissenting op.).
49 The program was held on May 7, 2003.
50 Yu v. Signet Bank/Virginia, 103 Cal. App. 4th 298 (2002).
51 Id. at 316 (emphasis in original).
52 Decker v. U. D. Registry, Inc., 105 Cal. App. 4th 1382 (2003).
53 Id. at 1392.
54 Gallimore v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Ins. Co., 102 Cal. App. 4th 1388 (2002).
55 Roberts v. Los Angeles County Bar Ass’n, 105 Cal. App. 4th 604 (2003).
56 Governor Gray Davis Comm. v. American Taxpayers Alliance, 102 Cal. App. 4th 449 (2002).
57 Id. at 460-72.
58 DuPont Merck Pharm. Co. v. Superior Court, 78 Cal. App. 4th 562 (2000).
59 Id. at 567. The Briggs court addressed communications with public and judicial bodies and in connection with official proceedings. It did not rule on whether the public interest requirement applied outside that context. Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope & Opportunity, 19 Cal. 4th 1106, 1116-18 (1999).
60 Kids Against Pollution v. California Dental Ass’n, 108 Cal. App. 4th 1003 (2003).
61 Consumer Justice Ctr. v. Trimedica Int’l Inc., 107 Cal. App. 4th 595 (2003).
62 Briggs, 19 Cal. 4th at 1118.
63 "Since its enactment, section 425.16 has spawned numerous appellate cases arising from various factual contexts that were perhaps never envisioned by George W. Pring and Penelope Canan, the two University of Denver professors who coined the expression ‘SLAPP’ suit." Governor Gray Davis Comm. v. American Taxpayers Alliance, 102 Cal. App. 4th 449, 455 (2002).
64 Navellier v. Sletten, 29 Cal. 4th 82, 102 (2002).
65 SB 515, 2003-04 Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2003).

 

 
 
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