Edward v. Ellis (2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 780. This is a classic SLAPP action but it ends up a little differently than expected. A developer sued a political consultant for libel based on allegedly false statements about the developer that were contained in two campaign e-mailers. The consultant filed a SLAPP motion. The Court concluded that this was protected activity, but the Court found that the developer demonstrated a probability of prevailing and therefore denied the SLAPP motion. The developer was able to provide clear and convincing evidence about the alleged defendant’s statements and that those statements were being made with knowledge of their falsity because the consultant admitted that he knew the developer had not paid damages to a city for fraud, yet he went ahead with the publication of mailers that insinuated the very opposite. As a result, it was reasonable to infer that the consultant had acted with actual malice, knowing that the statements made were false.
Musero v. Creative Artists Agency, LLC (2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 882. This is also a SLAPP case, and this one begins with a complaint against talent agents asserting tort and contract claims arising from alleged misappropriation of the writer’s ideas for a television show. The talent agents filed the SLAPP motion and the Court found that although the alleged conduct was in furtherance of constitutionally protected expression, it was far removed from any public interest. It was immaterial that the allegedly misappropriated matter was ever broadcast because the actual effect on speech or petition rights does not have to be shown.
Gregory L. McCoy