Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - August 26, 2013

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Melin v. Singer (2013) 217 Cal. App. 4th 1283.  This is another SLAPP case, in this case arising from a demand letter sent by an attorney for one business partner to the other business partner.  The lawyer and his client were sued for civil extortion, violation of civil rights based on illegal wiretapping and computer hacking activities, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.  The defendants brought a SLAPP motion.  The trial court denied the motion, but the Court of Appeal reversed as to the extortion claim, affirming as to the balance of the claims.  With respect to the extortion claim, the court determined that the demand letter was written by the attorney on behalf of his client in anticipation of litigation and also did not constitute criminal extortion as a matter of law.  The letter had no overt threat to report the plaintiff to any prosecuting agencies.  The court also found that the plaintiff did not show a probability of prevailing because the litigation privilege applied to the letter.  With respect to the other claims, the court found that they were not subject to dismissal under the SLAPP statute because they did not arise from protected activities.

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