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New Cases of Interest - August 22, 2011
Cross v. Cooper (2011) 197 Cal.App.4th 357. A new SLAPP case. In this matter the tenant brought a SLAPP motion seeking dismissal of a former landlord’s claim for breach of a residential lease agreement, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith for actions of the tenant in telling the agent of a buyer for the property that a registered sex offender lived across the street. The landlord contended this was in retaliation for the landlord’s failure to waive the last month’s rent as the tenant’s had requested. The trial court denied the motion but the Court of Appeal reversed finding that the tenant’s statement related to an area of strong and widespread public interest in knowing the location of registered sex offenders and because the location was not a secret, the tenant could not have committed attempted extortion and the conduct was therefore protected by the SLAPP statute.
Bailey v. Brewer (2011) 197 Cal.App.4th 781. This is another SLAPP case in which a documentary film maker had filed an action claiming intentional interference with a contractual relationship against a media company and its owner. The underlying dispute related to the ownership of certain film footage. The documentary film maker had prevailed in a small claims action and thereafter the media company and its owner sent cease and desist letters to cable companies and others to whom the material had been distributed. The trail court denied the SLAPP motion and the Court of Appeal upheld that decision, finding that the cease and desist letters did not qualify as petitioning activity within the meaning of the statute and they were not statements made in anticipation of litigation.
Tutti Mangia Italian Grill, Inc. v. American Textile Maintenance Company (2011) 197 Cal.App.4th 733. In this case there was an arbitration clause within a contract concerning the provision of restaurant linens. The vendor demanded arbitration under that provision, but the restaurant owners refused to participate in the arbitration process, contending that the general manager’s signature to the contract had been unauthorized. The arbitration proceeded and the vendor subsequently brought a petition to confirm the arbitration award, which the trial court granted and the Court of Appeal affirmed. The Court of Appeal found that the vendor was entitled to proceed with the arbitration because the arbitration clause was part of a self-executing provision in the agreement. Declarations submitted by the vendor contained sufficient factual statements to note that the general manager had ostensible authority to sign the contract.