Billauer v. Escobar-Eck (2023) 88 Cal.App.5th 953. This is another SLAPP case. A “neighborhood activist” filed a SLAPP motion with respect to a Cross-Complaint for liable which had been filed against him by the President and Chief Executive Officer of a land use and strategic planning firm. The moving party contended that all comments were covered under the litigation privilege and therefore not actionable. The court however found that the moving party had engaged in social medial posts which were not made pursuant to a planning commission or local city council meeting but where accessible to the public and simply were attempts to disparage the Cross-Complainant. The court also found that the Cross-Complainant had met the burden of establishing a probability of success on the merits and that the moving party had not produced evidence to defeat the defamation claims as a matter of law. Moreover, the Cross-Complainant had provided clear and convincing evidence of actual malice. Accordingly, the denial of the SLAPP motion was upheld.
Geragos v. Abelyan (2023) 88 Cal.App.5th 1005. This is another SLAPP issue. The underlying dispute involves allegations that attorneys had failed to perform services for which they had been paid and the SLAPP motion was with respect to a Cross-Complaint which alleged civil extortion and similar claims against the attorneys. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the SLAPP motion, finding that the attorneys alleged threat to report misappropriation of funds to the State Bar had a reasonable connection to the client’s suit to recover such funds, was not coupled with a demand for other money and did not constitute criminal extortion, and any professional misconduct was not illegal.
Gregory L. McCoy