New Cases Of Interest – February 14, 2020

Rall v. Tribune 365, LLC (2019) 43 Cal.App.5th 638.

Another SLAPP case.  In this one the Plaintiff was a cartoonist and blogger and sued certain media defendants for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  All the defendants filed a SLAPP motion, granted by the trial court and affirmed by the court of appeal.  The court said the defendants’ articles appeared only to be a fair and true report of a police investigation that was central to the substance of the articles, and hence absolutely privileged.  Plaintiff could not therefore establish a probability of prevailing on his defamation claims and plaintiff’s employment claims arose directly from defendants’ protected First Amendment conduct, which was deciding not to publish the plaintiff’s work.  The decision not to publish was the act for which liability had been asserted.

C. W. Howe Partners, Inc. v. Mooradian (2019) 43 Cal.App.5th 688.

Another SLAPP case.  In this case structural engineers filed a cross-complaint against homeowners concerning indemnity and the homeowners filed a SLAPP motion.  The court of appeal denied the motion determining that the engineers’ cross-complaint did not arise from the filing of the homeowners’ lawsuit, but from an alleged breach of the homeowners’ agreement to indemnify the engineers as to liability regarding the homeowners’ selection of building materials.  While indemnity claims had been found subject to SLAPP motions, this matter was distinguishable because the engineers did not allege in their cross-complaint that by filing the lawsuit the homeowners had breached the parties’ agreement nor did the homeowners assert that the refusal of the engineers’ indemnity claim brought up an issue of public interest.

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