Wittenberg v. Bornstein (2020) 50 Cal.App.5th 303.
This is a SLAPP matter. Plaintiff filed a lawsuit both individually and derivatively on behalf of an LLC in which he was an owner against a former attorney for the LLC and alleged that the former attorney had breached fiduciary duties of loyalty, care and confidentiality by representing clients that had interests adverse to those of the LLC, and conspiring with the other owner to dismiss with prejudice the cross-complaint that had been brought by the LLC against that owner. The attorney filed a SLAPP motion. The court of appeal held that the litigation conduct was only incidental to unprotected conduct, and the claims did not therefore arise from protected activity, at least for the most part, but some of the allegations with respect to the filing an unauthorized request for dismissal of a cross-complaint, were statements and writings made in connection with judicial proceedings.
Sandlin v. McLaughlin (2020) 50 Cal.App.5th 805. This is a SLAPP action. A writ petition challenged a candidate statement in a city council election and was met with a SLAPP motion. The court determined that the writ petition was subject to the SLAPP statute because the political work exception applied, the candidates statements that were mailed to all voters constituted protected activity additionally because they furthered debate on issues of public interest. The SLAPP motion should not have been denied as moot after the trial court denied the writ petition, but it should have been granted because there was no probability that the writ petition would prevail and a motion-seeking attorney general fees was also timely.
Trilogy Plumbing, Inc. v. Navigators Specialty Insurance Co. (2020) 50 Cal.App.5th 920. Another SLAPP action. The SLAPP motion was brought with respect to specific allegations in an insurance bad faith complaint. The motion was denied with the court finding that the insurer’s alleged conduct of retaining conflicted legal counsel and wrongfully negotiating settlements without the insured’s consent did not arise from protected litigation-related conduct, but instead was an alleged failure to perform under the terms of the policies. The conduct was related to pending litigation and attorney conduct. The cause of action must arise from litigation to be protected under the SLAPP statute.
Simmons v. Bauer Media Group USA, LLC (2020) 50 Cal.App.5th 1037. Still another SLAPP action. In this case the court found that the placement and use of a tracking device on a vehicle did not qualify as protected news gathering activity. This justified the denial of the SLAPP motion.
Gregory L. McCoy