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California SLAPP Law

Aaron Morris: Anti-SLAPP Attorney

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California SLAPP Law

California SLAPP Law

Aaron Morris: Anti-SLAPP Attorney

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Anti-SLAPP Motions and SLAPP-back Actions

Latest Episodes

SLAPP027 – When a Motion to Dismiss is a Better Strategy than an Anti-SLAPP Motion

President Trump is never short on controversy, and said controversy leads to some interesting cases. In Episode 27 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we will discuss two Trump cases — one First Amendment and one anti-SLAPP — arising from the words and tweets of our sneerless leader. We’ll also discuss when a motion to dismiss can be a better option than an anti-SLAPP motion. The first case is Nwanguma v. Donald Trump, arising from his comments at a political rally before he was elected. When hecklers tried to shout him down, he said “get ’em out of here.” The crowd heeded his words and bodily removed the protesters, who then sued for battery and incitement. They claimed that by saying “get ’em out of here,” Trump incited the crowd to riot. Trump moved to dismiss, arguing that his words were mere hyperbole. How did the court rule? Listen to Episode 27 and find out! Next comes the infamous case of Stormy Daniels v. Donald Trump. Daniels sued Trump in two different forums fo...

18 MIN2018 NOV 12
Comments
SLAPP027 – When a Motion to Dismiss is a Better Strategy than an Anti-SLAPP Motion

SLAPP026 – Don’t Sue for Defamation Unless the Statements Really are False

Canada, eh? Those hosers in Ontario didn’t get around to passing an anti-SLAPP statute until 2015, and they’re still trying to figure it out. In this episode of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we travel to the great white north to examine an anti-SLAPP motion that was denied by the trial court, but granted by the appellate court. It beautifully illustrates the most fundamental point of a defamation case that oh so many attorneys still don’t understand. A statement is not defamatory unless it is false, no matter what the quantum of harm it may cause.

14 MIN2018 SEP 17
Comments
SLAPP026 – Don’t Sue for Defamation Unless the Statements Really are False

SLAPP025 – Anti-SLAPP Motion Defeats Gone With the Wind Actress

de Havilland v. FX Networks, LLC If you sell t-shirts bearing the images of the Three Stooges, can you be sued for violating their right of publicity? And if you create and broadcast an 8-part docudrama centering on Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, can Olivia de Havilland sue you for including the details of HER life in that story? Well, the just decided case of de Havilland v. FX Networks, LLC answers both those questions. I enjoyed this anti-SLAPP case because it beautifully illustrates how some judges just don’t understand precedent. Olivia de Havilland, who is now 102 years old, did not like the way she was protrayed in the FX docudrama, “Feud: Bette and Joan,” centering on deceased actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. In case you don’t recognize the name, de Havilland portrayed Melanie in Gone With the Wind. She was the one Scarlett was always jealous of, as I recall. She sued FX, claiming the portrayal of her in the show amounted to the unauthorized use of her name and l...

23 MIN2018 AUG 26
Comments
SLAPP025 – Anti-SLAPP Motion Defeats Gone With the Wind Actress

SLAPP024 – Supreme Court Clarifies Whether Amended Complaint Resets 60-Day Clock for Anti-SLAPP Motion

In Episode 24 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we tackle two important anti-SLAPP issues. Newport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism The conventional wisdom until now, as expressed in cases such asYu v. Signet Bank/Virginia, was that an amended complaint creates an new 60-day period to file an anti-SLAPP motion. Then along came the Court of Appeal decision ofNewport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism. In that case, the plaintiff originally sued on two causes of action, to which the defendant demurrered. When the plaintiff filed a third amended complaint, which added two new causes of action, the defendant finally filed an anti-SLAPP motion, challenging all the claims, including the two that had been there all along. The trial court refused to consider the challenge to the previously existing claims, stating they were past the 60 days since they could have been previously challenged. The Supreme Court agreed. This is a quantum shift in th...

23 MIN2018 MAR 26
Comments
SLAPP024 – Supreme Court Clarifies Whether Amended Complaint Resets 60-Day Clock for Anti-SLAPP Motion

SLAPP023 – Privileged Speech Can Survive Anti-SLAPP Motions

In Episode 23 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we examine two cases that consider how privileged speech should be viewed during the two-prong anti-SLAPP analysis. As you will hear, the fact that the speech was privileged does not mean it automatically falls under the anti-SLAPP statute. Edalati v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. This unpublished case is our starting point. In Edalati, a dentist learned that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan had sent a letter to dozens of her patients, falsely informing them that the dentist was on a government list for Medicare abuse. Kaiser realized it’s mistake and sent out a retraction letter, but by that point the damage had been done. The dentist sued for defamation, and Kaiser responded with an anti-SLAPP motion. Kaiser’s letter clearly falls under the common interest privilege of Civil Code section 47, but is that enough to prevail on an anti-SLAPP motion? Lefebvre v. Lefebvre In opposition to Kaiser’s anti-SLAPP motion, the dentist in...

21 MIN2016 DEC 19
Comments
SLAPP023 – Privileged Speech Can Survive Anti-SLAPP Motions

SLAPP022 – Abuse of Process Claims and Anti-SLAPP Motions

Hooray for Hollywood! In Episode 22 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we discuss four cases involving the film industry that have all resulted in anti-SLAPP motions. We also dive deep into abuse of process claims, and determine if such claims can ever survive an anti-SLAPP motion. And in the process, we discuss a trial strategy that I successfully utilized in achieving a case involving the Automotive Repair Act. Cases discussed in this Episode: Kelly Van v. James Cameron (unpublished). In this case, and author named Kelly Van sued James Cameron and a cast of thousands, claiming that Avatar was a ripoff of her book, Sheila the Warrior; the Damned. When she lost the copyright action in Federal Court, she sued in state court, claiming that she only lost the federal action because the defendants had lied. So she was suing for statements made in another case. Sounds like a SLAPP to me. Timothy Forsyth v. Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. In this class action, the plaintiff c...

32 MIN2016 SEP 25
Comments
SLAPP022 – Abuse of Process Claims and Anti-SLAPP Motions

SLAPP021 – Anti-SLAPP Motions Against Mixed Causes of Action

We discuss the very important case of Baral v. Schnitt, in which the California Supreme Court finally dealt with the split of authorities regarding how to deal with complaints with mixed causes of action; those that contain allegations of both protected and unprotected activities. This is probably the most important anti-SLAPP decision of the decade. We also take a quick look at Hassell v. Bird, in which the Court of Appeal held that Yelp can be ordered to take down a false and defamatory post, even if it was not a party to the action. Finally, I tell the tale of a very entertaining victory we had in Norwalk Superior Court, in front of a finger-wagging judge.

27 MIN2016 SEP 1
Comments
SLAPP021 – Anti-SLAPP Motions Against Mixed Causes of Action

SLAPP020 – Sixth District Weighs in on Admissibility of Yelp Reviews and the Law on Inferences

In Episode 20 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we discuss important Evidence Codes, and my VINDICATION by the California Court of Appeal. The vindication comes in the form of a published opinion from the Sixth District Court of Appeal. I was brought in as co-counsel to first chair an internet defamation trial in Santa Cruz, representing a client (an attorney) we will refer to as “Esquire”. We were also defending a cross-complaint for breach of a commercial lease. The trial was assigned to Judge Ariadne Symons, who by her own admission was probably not the best choice for this case, confessing that she knew nothing about the internet and computers. At commencement of trial, the defense took one look at our trial brief, and immediately dismissed the cross-complaint, leaving for trial only our complaint for defamation and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Unfortunately, Judge Symons’ fundamental misunderstanding of the rules of evidence, both as to what is necessary to ...

46 MIN2016 JUL 4
Comments
SLAPP020 – Sixth District Weighs in on Admissibility of Yelp Reviews and the Law on Inferences

SLAPP019 – Five Best Published Anti-SLAPP Decisions (so far) in 2016

On Episode 19 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we go through my five favorite reported anti-SLAPP decisions from the first half of 2016. But first we begin with a cautionary tale of an attorney who is being sued for malpractice for failing to have me review his complaint before it was filed! (OK, there’s a back story here, so be sure to listen to this episode to find out what I’m talking about.) Then, we turn to the five best published anti-SLAPP decisions from the first half of 2016. The bold cases are the top five; the non-bolded are other cases I discuss as well. Lanz v. Goldstone (2015)243 Cal.App.4th 441 Another cautionary tale, this time of an attorney who followed the old adage, “the best defense is a good offense.” He tried to intimidate an attorney from seeking his legal fees, and bought himself a malicious prosecution action in the process. You’ll learn a lot about malicious prosecution actions and under what circumstances they can survive an anti-SLAPP motion. Be...

39 MIN2016 JUN 9
Comments
SLAPP019 – Five Best Published Anti-SLAPP Decisions (so far) in 2016

SLAPP018 – All You Need to Know About Anti-SLAPP Motions in Federal Court

In episode 18 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, I discuss an anti-SLAPP motion I decided NOT to pursue, and why. We discuss the case ofWeinberg v. Feisel (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 1122. Then we dive deep into the pros, cons, and frustrations of bringing anti-SLAPP motions in Federal Court. Since 1999, the Ninth Circuit has recognized that the California anti-SLAPP statute can be applied to cases in Federal Court, but the motion you bring there is a very different animal from what is pursued in State Court. As part of our discussion on anti-SLAPP motions in Federal Court, we cover the following cases: Erie Railroad Company v. Tompkins (1938) 304 U.S. 64 Swift v. Tyson (1842) 41 U.S. 1 United States Newsham v. Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. (1999) 171 F.3d 1208 Makaeff v. Trump University (2013) 715 F.3d 254 Verizon Delaware, Inc. v. Covad Communications (2004) 377 F.3d 1081 Globetrotter Software, Inc. v. Elan Computer Group (2004) 362 F.3d 1367

31 MIN2016 MAY 30
Comments
SLAPP018 – All You Need to Know About Anti-SLAPP Motions in Federal Court

Latest Episodes

SLAPP027 – When a Motion to Dismiss is a Better Strategy than an Anti-SLAPP Motion

President Trump is never short on controversy, and said controversy leads to some interesting cases. In Episode 27 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we will discuss two Trump cases — one First Amendment and one anti-SLAPP — arising from the words and tweets of our sneerless leader. We’ll also discuss when a motion to dismiss can be a better option than an anti-SLAPP motion. The first case is Nwanguma v. Donald Trump, arising from his comments at a political rally before he was elected. When hecklers tried to shout him down, he said “get ’em out of here.” The crowd heeded his words and bodily removed the protesters, who then sued for battery and incitement. They claimed that by saying “get ’em out of here,” Trump incited the crowd to riot. Trump moved to dismiss, arguing that his words were mere hyperbole. How did the court rule? Listen to Episode 27 and find out! Next comes the infamous case of Stormy Daniels v. Donald Trump. Daniels sued Trump in two different forums fo...

18 MIN2018 NOV 12
Comments
SLAPP027 – When a Motion to Dismiss is a Better Strategy than an Anti-SLAPP Motion

SLAPP026 – Don’t Sue for Defamation Unless the Statements Really are False

Canada, eh? Those hosers in Ontario didn’t get around to passing an anti-SLAPP statute until 2015, and they’re still trying to figure it out. In this episode of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we travel to the great white north to examine an anti-SLAPP motion that was denied by the trial court, but granted by the appellate court. It beautifully illustrates the most fundamental point of a defamation case that oh so many attorneys still don’t understand. A statement is not defamatory unless it is false, no matter what the quantum of harm it may cause.

14 MIN2018 SEP 17
Comments
SLAPP026 – Don’t Sue for Defamation Unless the Statements Really are False

SLAPP025 – Anti-SLAPP Motion Defeats Gone With the Wind Actress

de Havilland v. FX Networks, LLC If you sell t-shirts bearing the images of the Three Stooges, can you be sued for violating their right of publicity? And if you create and broadcast an 8-part docudrama centering on Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, can Olivia de Havilland sue you for including the details of HER life in that story? Well, the just decided case of de Havilland v. FX Networks, LLC answers both those questions. I enjoyed this anti-SLAPP case because it beautifully illustrates how some judges just don’t understand precedent. Olivia de Havilland, who is now 102 years old, did not like the way she was protrayed in the FX docudrama, “Feud: Bette and Joan,” centering on deceased actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. In case you don’t recognize the name, de Havilland portrayed Melanie in Gone With the Wind. She was the one Scarlett was always jealous of, as I recall. She sued FX, claiming the portrayal of her in the show amounted to the unauthorized use of her name and l...

23 MIN2018 AUG 26
Comments
SLAPP025 – Anti-SLAPP Motion Defeats Gone With the Wind Actress

SLAPP024 – Supreme Court Clarifies Whether Amended Complaint Resets 60-Day Clock for Anti-SLAPP Motion

In Episode 24 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we tackle two important anti-SLAPP issues. Newport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism The conventional wisdom until now, as expressed in cases such asYu v. Signet Bank/Virginia, was that an amended complaint creates an new 60-day period to file an anti-SLAPP motion. Then along came the Court of Appeal decision ofNewport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism. In that case, the plaintiff originally sued on two causes of action, to which the defendant demurrered. When the plaintiff filed a third amended complaint, which added two new causes of action, the defendant finally filed an anti-SLAPP motion, challenging all the claims, including the two that had been there all along. The trial court refused to consider the challenge to the previously existing claims, stating they were past the 60 days since they could have been previously challenged. The Supreme Court agreed. This is a quantum shift in th...

23 MIN2018 MAR 26
Comments
SLAPP024 – Supreme Court Clarifies Whether Amended Complaint Resets 60-Day Clock for Anti-SLAPP Motion

SLAPP023 – Privileged Speech Can Survive Anti-SLAPP Motions

In Episode 23 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we examine two cases that consider how privileged speech should be viewed during the two-prong anti-SLAPP analysis. As you will hear, the fact that the speech was privileged does not mean it automatically falls under the anti-SLAPP statute. Edalati v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. This unpublished case is our starting point. In Edalati, a dentist learned that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan had sent a letter to dozens of her patients, falsely informing them that the dentist was on a government list for Medicare abuse. Kaiser realized it’s mistake and sent out a retraction letter, but by that point the damage had been done. The dentist sued for defamation, and Kaiser responded with an anti-SLAPP motion. Kaiser’s letter clearly falls under the common interest privilege of Civil Code section 47, but is that enough to prevail on an anti-SLAPP motion? Lefebvre v. Lefebvre In opposition to Kaiser’s anti-SLAPP motion, the dentist in...

21 MIN2016 DEC 19
Comments
SLAPP023 – Privileged Speech Can Survive Anti-SLAPP Motions

SLAPP022 – Abuse of Process Claims and Anti-SLAPP Motions

Hooray for Hollywood! In Episode 22 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we discuss four cases involving the film industry that have all resulted in anti-SLAPP motions. We also dive deep into abuse of process claims, and determine if such claims can ever survive an anti-SLAPP motion. And in the process, we discuss a trial strategy that I successfully utilized in achieving a case involving the Automotive Repair Act. Cases discussed in this Episode: Kelly Van v. James Cameron (unpublished). In this case, and author named Kelly Van sued James Cameron and a cast of thousands, claiming that Avatar was a ripoff of her book, Sheila the Warrior; the Damned. When she lost the copyright action in Federal Court, she sued in state court, claiming that she only lost the federal action because the defendants had lied. So she was suing for statements made in another case. Sounds like a SLAPP to me. Timothy Forsyth v. Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. In this class action, the plaintiff c...

32 MIN2016 SEP 25
Comments
SLAPP022 – Abuse of Process Claims and Anti-SLAPP Motions

SLAPP021 – Anti-SLAPP Motions Against Mixed Causes of Action

We discuss the very important case of Baral v. Schnitt, in which the California Supreme Court finally dealt with the split of authorities regarding how to deal with complaints with mixed causes of action; those that contain allegations of both protected and unprotected activities. This is probably the most important anti-SLAPP decision of the decade. We also take a quick look at Hassell v. Bird, in which the Court of Appeal held that Yelp can be ordered to take down a false and defamatory post, even if it was not a party to the action. Finally, I tell the tale of a very entertaining victory we had in Norwalk Superior Court, in front of a finger-wagging judge.

27 MIN2016 SEP 1
Comments
SLAPP021 – Anti-SLAPP Motions Against Mixed Causes of Action

SLAPP020 – Sixth District Weighs in on Admissibility of Yelp Reviews and the Law on Inferences

In Episode 20 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we discuss important Evidence Codes, and my VINDICATION by the California Court of Appeal. The vindication comes in the form of a published opinion from the Sixth District Court of Appeal. I was brought in as co-counsel to first chair an internet defamation trial in Santa Cruz, representing a client (an attorney) we will refer to as “Esquire”. We were also defending a cross-complaint for breach of a commercial lease. The trial was assigned to Judge Ariadne Symons, who by her own admission was probably not the best choice for this case, confessing that she knew nothing about the internet and computers. At commencement of trial, the defense took one look at our trial brief, and immediately dismissed the cross-complaint, leaving for trial only our complaint for defamation and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Unfortunately, Judge Symons’ fundamental misunderstanding of the rules of evidence, both as to what is necessary to ...

46 MIN2016 JUL 4
Comments
SLAPP020 – Sixth District Weighs in on Admissibility of Yelp Reviews and the Law on Inferences

SLAPP019 – Five Best Published Anti-SLAPP Decisions (so far) in 2016

On Episode 19 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, we go through my five favorite reported anti-SLAPP decisions from the first half of 2016. But first we begin with a cautionary tale of an attorney who is being sued for malpractice for failing to have me review his complaint before it was filed! (OK, there’s a back story here, so be sure to listen to this episode to find out what I’m talking about.) Then, we turn to the five best published anti-SLAPP decisions from the first half of 2016. The bold cases are the top five; the non-bolded are other cases I discuss as well. Lanz v. Goldstone (2015)243 Cal.App.4th 441 Another cautionary tale, this time of an attorney who followed the old adage, “the best defense is a good offense.” He tried to intimidate an attorney from seeking his legal fees, and bought himself a malicious prosecution action in the process. You’ll learn a lot about malicious prosecution actions and under what circumstances they can survive an anti-SLAPP motion. Be...

39 MIN2016 JUN 9
Comments
SLAPP019 – Five Best Published Anti-SLAPP Decisions (so far) in 2016

SLAPP018 – All You Need to Know About Anti-SLAPP Motions in Federal Court

In episode 18 of the California SLAPP Law Podcast, I discuss an anti-SLAPP motion I decided NOT to pursue, and why. We discuss the case ofWeinberg v. Feisel (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 1122. Then we dive deep into the pros, cons, and frustrations of bringing anti-SLAPP motions in Federal Court. Since 1999, the Ninth Circuit has recognized that the California anti-SLAPP statute can be applied to cases in Federal Court, but the motion you bring there is a very different animal from what is pursued in State Court. As part of our discussion on anti-SLAPP motions in Federal Court, we cover the following cases: Erie Railroad Company v. Tompkins (1938) 304 U.S. 64 Swift v. Tyson (1842) 41 U.S. 1 United States Newsham v. Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. (1999) 171 F.3d 1208 Makaeff v. Trump University (2013) 715 F.3d 254 Verizon Delaware, Inc. v. Covad Communications (2004) 377 F.3d 1081 Globetrotter Software, Inc. v. Elan Computer Group (2004) 362 F.3d 1367

31 MIN2016 MAY 30
Comments
SLAPP018 – All You Need to Know About Anti-SLAPP Motions in Federal Court
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