CASP Published Anti-SLAPP Appellate Opinions
The seven published appellate opinions on anti-SLAPP cases that CASP’s founder and director, Mark Goldowitz, prevailed in are listed below.
(2013, 1st District – 212 Cal.App.4th 931)
Our client, 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.
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.
Barrett v. Rosenthal
(Supreme Court, 2006 – 40 Cal.4th 33, 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.
Thomas v. Quintero
(2005, 1st District – 126 Cal.App.4th 635, 24 Cal.Rptr.3d 619)
Our client, John Quintero, was part of organized public protests against Richard Thomas, his landlord. After Quintero and others appeared at Thomas’s church, Thomas filed a petition against Quintero seeking injunctive relief against civil harassment (per Code of Civil Procedure section 527.6). Quintero filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which the trial court denied. The appellate court reversed, holding that the section 527.6 petition to enjoin civil harassment was subject to an anti-SLAPP motion and the plaintiff had not shown that the lawsuit had any merit.
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.
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.
Briggs v. Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity
(Supreme Court, 1999 – 19 Cal.4th 1106, 81 Cal.Rptr.2d 471)
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.
Church of Scientology 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.
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