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New Cases of Interest - December 24, 2013
Hupp v. Freedom Communications, Inc. (2013) 221 Cal.App4th 398. This is a new SLAPP case. In this matter the plaintiff sued an internet publisher contending that comments which were made on the publisher's website concerning the plaintiff and an article concerning public safety pensions invaded plaintiff's privacy, harassed him and were harmful to him. The defendant, which published the Orange County Register, responding by contending that the comments were in furtherance of free speech rights and filed the SLAPP motion.
The Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal of plaintiff's case, finding that the actions complained of arose directly from free speech rights and hence were based on protected activity. Plaintiff also was unable to show a probability of prevailing in the action.
JKC3H8 v. Colton (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 468. This is another SLAPP case which arises out of a dispute between neighbors over the use of a road. Plaintiff initially sought an injunction and damages but then filed a first amended complaint that removed a reference found in the original complaint to the defendant's temporary restraining order. The same day the first amended complaint was filed the defendant filed a SLAPP motion directed at the original complaint arguing that its reference to the temporary restraining order was a reference to protected activity under the SLAPP statute.
The Court of Appeal held that the amended complaint rendered the SLAPP motion moot. Plaintiff had not amended the complaint in order to avoid a ruling on the SLAPP motion because the SLAPP motion had not been filed at the time the amended complaint was filed. Since the anti-SLAPP motion was directed at a superseded complaint, it was moot from the start.