New Cases Of Interest – November 6, 2019

Hicks v. Richard (2019) 39 Cal.App.5th 1167.

This is a SLAPP decision.  Plaintiff filed a complaint for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress concerning complaints about the plaintiff which were reported in a parent’s letter to church officials responsible for overseeing the school where the plaintiff principal served.  The SLAPP motion followed and the court held that the motion should have been granted in full because the parent who was the named defendant had engaged in protected activity, the letter implicated issues of public interest, such as the appropriate educational services being provided and protection from bullying, and the letter further did prompt officials to act.  The court also found that the principal did not establish a probability of prevailing because the evidence that the parent disliked the principal was insufficient to prove actual malice.

Alaama v. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital, Inc. (2019) 40 Cal.App.5th 55.

This is an action dealing with the right to have a hearing when a physician is being denied hospital privileges.  Those hearing rights had been denied on the basis that the physician was terminated for a non-medical disciplinary cause of action and a breach of a prior behavioral agreement.  The court of appeal though found that a hearing was required because the action involved was the purported blocking of hospital staff from moving a bed into a position for a patient, and thereby in violation of patient care, which was under the provisions of Business and Professions Code § 805 a “medical disciplinary cause of reason” for terminating the physician’s privileges, triggering both mandatory reporting under Business and Professions Code § 805 and the right to a hearing under § 809.

Livares v. Pineda (2019) 40 Cal.App.5th 343.

This is also a SLAPP case which involves a residential tenancy.  The tenants filed suit against the landlord and the landlord’s attorneys asserting claims for wrongful eviction and misuse of a security deposit and other claims.  The attorneys filed the SLAPP motion but that motion was denied on the basis that the attorneys didn’t satisfy the first prong of the statute because the allegation that they misused the security deposit did not arise out of protected activity.  The court also found the tenant satisfied its burden on the second prong by showing minimum merit of their remaining claims.

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