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

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

Adams v. Trimble
Eastern District of California, 2012
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10084

Alexander v. A&E Television Networks, LLC
Eastern District of California, 2011
2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99913

Alexander v. A&E Television Networks, LLC
Eastern District of California, 2011
2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142710

Applied Med. Sys. v. English
Southern District of California, 2011
2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142073

Bautista v. Hunt & Henriques
Northern District of California
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5009

Blumenthal v. Drudge
District of Columbia, 2001

[Unpublished opinion]
Matt Drudge, who operates a news website, was sued by plaintiffs for defamation in 1997. Three years later Drudge filed a special motion to strike the complaint under California’s anti-SLAPP statute. The judge denied the motion, in part because the motion was filed at such a late point in the proceedings, and, seemingly, in part because he did not believe the suit was “the type of action that the California legislature had in mind when it enacted the anti-SLAPP law,” i.e., plaintiffs had not brought suit simply to harass Drudge.

Browne v. McCain
Central District of California, 2009
611 F.Supp.2d 1062

Bulletin Displays, LLC v. Regency Outdoor Advertising, Inc.
Central District of California, 2006
448 F.Supp.2d 1172

Burnett v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
Central District of California, 2007
229 F.Supp.2d 962
(Case summary in preparation.)

Competitive Technologies. v. Fujitsu Ltd.
Northern District of California, 2003
286 F.Supp.2d 1118

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.
Eastern District of California, 2002
248 F.Supp.2d 945

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.

David v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC
Northern District of California, 2011
2011 U.S. Dist LEXIS 140198

Dealertrack, Inc. v. Huber
Southern District of California, 2006
460 F.Supp.2d 1177
(Case summary in preparation.)

eCash Technologies v. Guagliardo
Central District of California, 2000
127 F.Supp.2d 1069

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).

Fabbrini v. City of Dunsmuir
Eastern District of California, 2006
544 F.Supp.2d 1044
(Case summary in preparation.)

Flores v. Emerich & Fike
Eastern District of California, 2006
416 F.Supp.2d 885

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.

Global Telemedia International, Inc. v. Doe 1
Central District of California, 2001
132 F.Supp.2d 1261

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.
Northern District of California, 1999
63 F.Supp.2d 1127

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.

Manufactured Home Communities, Inc. v. San Diego County (“Manufactured II”)
Southern District of California, 2009
606 F.Supp.2d 1266

MCSI, Inc. v. Woods
Northern District of California, 2003
290 F.Supp.2d 1030

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.
Central District of California, 2008
526 F.Supp.2d 1024
(Case summary in preparation.)

Metabolife International, Inc. v. Susan Wornick (“Wornick I”)
Southern District of California, 1999
72 F.Supp.2d 1160

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”)
Southern District of California, 2002
213 F.Supp.2d 1220

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

New.net, Inc. v. Lavasoft
Central District of California, 2004
356 F.Supp.2d 1090

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
Northern District of California, 1999
72 F.Supp.2d 1093

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.

Osborne v. Pite Duncan, LLP
Southern District of California, 2012
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3779

Price v. Stossel
Central District of California, 2008
590 F.Supp.2d 1262
(Case summary in preparation.)

Rogers v. Home Shopping Network
Central District of California, 1999
57 F.Supp.2d 973

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….”

Sharper Image Corporation v. Target Corp.
Northern District of California, 2006
425 F.Supp.2d 1056

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.
Northern District of California, 2003
294 F.Supp.2d 1085

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.

Smith v. Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Northern District of California, 2011
2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146143

Summit Media LLC v. City of Los Angeles
Central District of California, 2008
530 F.Supp.2d 1084
(Case summary in preparation.)

Thomas v. Los Angeles Times Communications
Central District of California, 2002
189 F.Supp.2d 1005

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.

Troy Group, Inc. v. Tilson
Central District of California, 2002
364 F.Supp.2d 1149

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.

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

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

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Site last updated August 29, 2014 @ 11:54 am; This content last updated July 29, 2014 @ 10:25 am