Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - April 8, 2014

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Fahlen v. Sutter Central Valley Hospitals (2014) 58 Cal.4th 655.  A hospital terminated a physician's staff privileges through its quasi-judicial peer review process and the physician contended that he had in fact been retaliated against for reports of substandard performance by hospital nurses.  The Supreme Court held that when a physician claims under Health and Safety Code §1278.5 that a decision to restrict or terminate his staff privileges resulted from retaliation because of concerns he had reported about patient care, the physician does not first need to seek and obtain a mandamus judgment setting aside the Hospital's decision before pursuing a statutory claim for relief.

Moriarty v. Larmar Management Corp. (2014) 224 Cal.App.4th 125.  This is another SLAPP case.  In this matter a tenant brought an action against his landlords and included a claim for breach of the warranty of habitability and wrongful eviction in violation of the provisions of the San Francisco Administrative Code.  The landlord brought a SLAPP motion which the trial court denied.  The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court, finding that the tenant's Complaint was not subject to the SLAPP statute because it was not based on protected activity.  The tenant's action was an action for violation of rent ordinances on the wrongful eviction claim.  Terminating a tenancy or removing a property from the rental market are not activities which are taken in furtherance of the Constitutional rights of petition or free speech.  The landlord was unable to demonstrate that the tenant's wrongful eviction cause of action was based in whole or in part on an unlawful detainer default action that was not referenced at any point in the Complaint.  The court found that even if the landlord had been able to make this showing, the anti-SLAPP statute does not apply where any allegations of protected activity are only incidental to the primary gist of the complaint. 

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