Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - June 30, 2011

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Price v. Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 962.  This is another SLAPP case.  A manager at a facility where certain union members worked brought a defamation and false light claim against the union and certain members of the union.  During a strike, union members posted flyers at an apartment complex in another city where the manager lived, indicating that the manager had threatened workers and suggesting that he might be dangerous to his neighbors.

The trial court denied the SLAPP motion, and that decision was affirmed by the appellate court.  Without reaching the issue of whether or not the manager had a probability of prevailing, the court found that the flyers did not concern an issue of public interest, and because the defamation and false light claims were based on the content of those flyers, the matter was not one of public interest merely because the flyers were distributed by union members during a labor dispute.  The flyers consisted mainly of personal attacks unrelated to the strike, and there was no evidence that the neighbors or others in their communities had any interest in or knowledge of the strike, or that the union was seeking to engage them in a discussion about the issues involved in the strike. 

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