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On Friday Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Andrew Hurwitz issued an opinion in Obsidian Finance Group, LLC. v. Cox. His opening line was as follows: “This case requires us to address a question of first impression: What First Amendment protections are afforded a blogger sued for defamation?” This important new decision involved a blog post by blogger Crystal Cox, in which she accused a financial firm and its bankruptcy trustee of tax fraud. At the trial court level, the judge rejected Cox’s First Amendment arguments...read more
by Evan Mascagni and Mark Goldowitz The Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division 2, issued a published opinion last week in Mission Springs Water District v. Verjil reversing its earlier rule denying the applicability of the anti-SLAPP law to pre-election challenges to ballot initiatives in California. The Court held that pre-election challenges to an initiative implicate the personal constitutional rights of the initiative’s proponents, and thus arises from activity protected under CCP 425.16. This case began after Mission...read more
The Second Circuit has now joined the First, Fifth, and Ninth Circuits in holding that state anti-SLAPP laws confer substantive laws under the Erie doctrine, and are therefore applicable in federal court. In Liberty Synergistics Inc. v. Microflo Ltd., Liberty Synergistics Inc. (Liberty) filed a malicious prosecution suit in California state court against Microflo Ltd. (Microflo) over an earlier round of litigation between the same parties in the Eastern District of New York. Liberty alleged that Microflo, in pursing the previous litigation...read more
Last week, a federal district judge in the Central District of California held that actions aimed at unionizing employees was protected activity under California’s anti-SLAPP statute. In Magic Laundry Services, Inc. v. Workers United Service Employees International Union, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53296, Judge Michael Fitzgerald issued an order granting defendants’ special motion to strike all four state law claims brought by Magic Laundry. In the case, Magic Laundry asserted claims for relief against defendants based on allegations...read more
Putlizer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Lewis passed away last week at the age of 85. Lewis famously published Make No Law in 1991 about the Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan and how it revolutionized American libel law. While most well known for establishing the actual malice standard in defamation suits about public officials/figures, the facts of New York Times v. Sullivan also show that it was what we would refer to today as a SLAPP. In 1960, The New York Times ran a full-page advertisement that was soliciting funds...read more
CASP has blogged and questioned whether Gerbosi v. Gaims, (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 435, was the worst decision ever decided under the California anti-SLAPP law, as it held that the mere allegation that defendant’s conduct was criminal means that the anti-SLAPP law does not apply. Yesterday, five amici briefs were filed in Malin v. Singer, a case at the California Court of Appeal, which among other things, could help repudiate Gerbosi. The California Anti-SLAPP Project represents two of the appellants in this case – a woman who has...read more
In Dwight R. v. Christy B., the Court of Appeal recently addressed the application of California’s anti-SLAPP law to allegedly illegal acts. Some confusion on this issue arises from the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Flatley v. Mauro. Although the Flatley court held that the anti-SLAPP statute does not apply where “either the defendant concedes, or the evidence conclusively establishes” that the alleged protected activity is illegal as a matter of law, at least one court has held that mere allegations of criminality are...read more
Last week, Donald Trump filed a breach of contract lawsuit against comedian Bill Maher in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit stems from a joke that Maher on an appearance on Jay Leno poking fun at Trump’s birther claims about President Obama. Maher said that he would donate $5 million to a charity if Trump could prove he wasn’t the “the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.” Trump then sent Maher a copy of his birth certificate, and when Maher refused to pay the $5 million, Trump filed the breach of contract...read more
The Public Participation Project (PPP) is the only organization in the United States whose main mission is to strengthen the First Amendment rights of all Americans through federal anti-SLAPP legislation. PPP recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to hire a full-time Legislative Director in Washington DC. Please check out the rewards, make a pledge, and help them reach their $50,000 goal! www.indiegogo.com/SLAPP PPP started as a project of CASP and has since grown to an independent organization. Mark Goldowitz, Founder and...read more
Faster than a speeding bullet, the right to appeal an anti-SLAPP motion in federal court is instantaneous.
In DC Comics v. Pac. Pictures Corp., the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed the rule that an order ruling on a motion made pursuant to California’s anti-SLAPP statute is immediately appealable in federal court. In the search for Truth, Justice, and the American Way, Superman has left a trail of litigation in his jet stream. This case is one of many in a line of attempts to terminate DC Comics’ right to Superman copyrights. Since selling exclusive rights to the superhero in 1938, the creators and their heirs have disputed DC’s...read more