Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - February 6, 2017

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Medical Marijuana Inc. v. (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 602.  This is a SLAPP case.  A claim was brought for libel and false light against the publisher of an online article who then filed a SLAPP motion.  The motion was denied and the Court of Appeal affirmed the denial finding that the burden to identify allegations of protected activity as the first step of the SLAPP analysis was not met because the complaint did not allege any conduct on the part of the publishers that would give rise to liability on those claims, but rather alleged only conduct by others in making statements elsewhere before the date the of the publication.  It was not necessary therefore to reach the second step of the analysis, although the Court noted that the defendant might be able to address alleged deficiencies in the pleadings by other means.

Mendoza v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 802.  This is another in a series of cases involving whether a borrower has standing to challenge the assignment of a loan and deed of trust as an untimely assignment and the fact that the assignment was robo-signed.  The Court found that the borrower here lacked standing in that the defects alleged would render the assignment voidable but not void under New York law, and New York law governed the transaction.  The transaction was subject to ratification under New York law by the trust beneficiaries.  Potential tax transactions which were involved because of the alleged improper assignment also did not affect the validity of the assignment itself.  It did not give rise to a cause of action in the borrower.

Wilson v. Cable News Network, Inc. (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 822.  This is another SLAPP case.  In this case certain media defendants brought a SLAPP motion against plaintiff's complaint which alleged discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination and defamation.  The Court of Appeal concluded that the conduct of the defendants did not arise from an act in furtherance of their right of free speech or to petition for redress of grievances, and was not made in connection with an issue of public interest, and therefore was outside the scope of the SLAPP statute.  This was instead a private employment discrimination and retaliation case, not an action that designed to prevent the defendants from exercising First Amendment rights.  The employment related causes of action alleged that defendants engaged in discriminatory and retaliatory conduct against the employee and did not trigger SLAPP protection.  

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