Serova v. Sony Music Entertainment (2022) 13 Cal.5th 859. This was a SLAPP case which makes it to the Supreme Court. The plaintiff purchased a music album and contended after the purchase that some of the tracks were not by the party that the consumer would be led to believe by looking at the album cover. Plaintiff brought suit against the marketer of the album. The marketer brought the SLAPP motion. The court noted that the album cover and accompanying video were commercial advertising meant to sell a product and that generally there is no constitutional objection to the suppression of commercial messages that do not accurately inform the public. Further, a marketer’s purported lack of knowledge of falsity does not indicate whether the seller’s speech is commercial or noncommercial and commercial speech does not shed its nature simply because the seller makes a statement without knowledge or that it is hard to verify. The court found that plaintiff had demonstrated for the purposes of the SLAPP proceeding that her claims had sufficient merit, noting that perhaps in another context the First Amendment would limit the reach of consumer protection laws, but the statement, here were not placed beyond the reach of state regulation.
Maleti v. Wickers (2022) 82 Cal.App.5th 181. This is a SLAPP case in front of the Court of Appeal. Plaintiff brought a malicious prosecution claim and abuse of process claim. The malicious prosecution claim survived the SLAPP motion because a favorable termination on the merits occurred in the underlying action. The abuse of process claim, however, was stricken because the complaint lacked allegations of misuse of the process of the court. Denying attorneys fees for partial success on the SLAPP motion was error because the record did not support a finding that no practical benefit resulted from successfully moving to strike the abuse of process claim.
Gregory L. McCoy