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New Cases of Interest - March 19, 2012
Hecimovich v. Encinal School Parent Teacher Organization (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 450. The plaintiff in this case had served as a volunteer coach for a fourth grade basketball team in an after school program, and he filed a complaint against four defendants consisting of a parent teacher organization and three volunteers who were also involved in running the after school program. The defendants filed a SLAPP motion which the trial court denied, but the court of appeal reversed and remanded the matter with instructions. The court of appeal concluded that the lawsuit was one which arose out of an issue of public interest, with the complaint itself contended that the communications at issue concerned the well being of young children in an after school sports program. The court construed the complaint as alleging that the safety of the children involved in the program was at the heart of the dispute. The plaintiff did not demonstrate a likelihood of prevailing on the merits and could present no evidence which demonstrated a prima facie case of defamation. As a result, the court found that the SLAPP motion should have been granted.