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New Cases of Interest - May 14, 2012
Johnson v. Ralph’s Grocery Company (2012) 104 Cal.App.4th 1097. Plaintiff in this case had been unsuccessfully prosecuted for shoplifting and then brought an action against Ralph’s Grocery Company, and its security company for malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendants filed a SLAPP motion and also a demurrer. The court found that the SLAPP motion was properly granted on the malicious prosecution claim. The court found that by definition a malicious prosecution claim alleges that a tort was committed by the filing or instigating of a prior lawsuit and the SLAPP statute therefore applies to malicious prosecution actions. The court also found that plaintiff failed to show a probability of prevailing on the action. The court found that the grocery store was not liable for the negligence of employees of a security company which was an independent contractor and the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim failed because the security company employees had probable clause to believe that the plaintiff had shoplifted and therefore could be detained. Comments to the effect that the plaintiff was not welcome to shop there anymore and the comment, “That’s what you get” were insufficient as a matter of law to establish outrageous conduct.