Timothy W. v. Julie W. (2022) 85 Cal.App.5th 648. This is the first of two SLAPP cases. The plaintiff brought two causes of action based in tort and two in contract arising from a private investigator’s disclosure of sensitive information while conducting a financial investigation in connection with a divorce proceeding. The court concluded that the SLAPP motion should have been granted in its entirety because the litigation privilege in Civil Code § 47(b) applied, the probability of the plaintiff prevailing was not shown and in addition the investigator was not a party to a purported confidentiality agreement which formed the basis for the breach of contract action and the claim was also barred by both the litigation privilege and the prohibition against a non-property contract between spouses under Family Code § 1620.
Flickinger v. Finwall (2022) 85 Cal.App.5th 822. Plaintiff alleged civil extortion claim against an attorney based on the attorney in a demand letter including an implied threat to disclose kickbacks and money laundering by a property owner who had threatened litigation against that attorney’s client for doing work that had not been properly permitted. The court concluded that the letter did not fall within the illegality exception to the litigation privilege because the contention that the owner had paid with laundered money and therefore had not wanted permits was within the bounds of professional conduct of advancing an arguable position favorable to the client. It was therefore not criminal extortion as a matter of law. The litigation privilege then applied to bar the civil extortion claim.
Gregory L. McCoy