Claassen, P.C. SLAPPs A Plaintiff's Case On Appeal.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. August 19, 2015.   Claassen, P.C. scored a win for a client earlier this week when the Sixth District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court’s partial denial of a Special Motion to Strike.  The panel of three justices returned the case to the lower court with directions to enter a new order striking the entire complaint and award attorney’s fees for the firm’s efforts.  The case is Privato Security, LLC v. Sidman.

A special motion to strike is a device sometimes used by defendants to obtain an early dismissal of a case under California Code of Civil Procedure 425.16, sometimes called the Anti-SLAPP Statute.  It is available when a plaintiff sues for alleged conduct that would typically be protected by the First Amendment and the case lacks even minimal merit.  The motion must be brought soon after service of process.  When a court grants such a motion, the complaint is dismissed with prejudice.  The defendant is entitled to a mandatory award of attorney’s fees.  Unlike many pre-trial motions, a defendant who loses all or part of the motion may appeal immediately.

In Privato Security, LLC v. Sidman, the firm’s client founded a company called WebLoq.  WebLOQ allegedly ran into financial difficulties and it ceased operations in 2012 and its assets were assigned to a new company, Privato Security, LLC (Privato).  Privato subsequently filed an action against the firm’s client alleging that he acted improperly in sending letters to other WebLOQ shareholders seeking their support in litigation and asserting Privato and its founders violated their fiduciary duties.  It asserted causes of action for libel, breach of contract, unfair competition and declaratory relief.

The firm filed a special motion to strike on behalf of its clients, arguing that each of the causes of action was protected and the case lacked merit.  The trial court granted the motion only in part, holding that the libel claim was protected and was barred by the litigation privilege.  The firm then appealed the partial denial.

                The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred.  It reasoned:

Sidman has made a threshold showing that the causes of action for breach of contract, unfair competition, and injunctive and declaratory relief arise from speech or petitioning activity protected under section 425.16, subdivision (e)(2) and Privato has not demonstrated a probability of prevailing on any of the causes of action.  We therefore conclude that Sidman’s anti-SLAPP motion should be granted as to the causes of action for breach of contract, unfair competition, and injunctive and declaratory relief.

John Claassen is an experienced Anti-SLAPP litigator.  He practices from the offices of Claassen, P.C. in Oakland, California.  For more information about his firm, please click here.  While this blog entry is published for informational purposes, portions of this blog post may constitute “communications” within the meaning of California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  Thus, as a possible "Advertisement" it is not intended to constitute legal advice.  Similarly, no statement made in this blog post is intended as a guarantee, warranty, or promise about the outcome of any litigation matter taken on by the firm.  This Advertisement is not intended for any matter that would require the rendition of legal services outside of the State of California or under the laws of any jurisdiction outside of the State of California. Copyright 2015.  All rights reserved.