The anti-SLAPP statute (Code of Civ. Proc., § 416.25) has become increasingly important in recent years. If a plaintiff files a claim "arising from any act" of the defendant "in furtherance of the person's right of petition or free speech," the defendant can bring a special motion to strike under this statute. The plaintiff then must present facts showing that there is a probability the plaintiff will prevail. If the plaintiff fails, the court will strike the plaintiff's complaint and award attorney's fees.
Mr. Adelstein is familiar with this statute and has handled several appeals involving anti-SLAPP issues.
Mr. Adelstein represented a landowner who was sued. In an earlier case, the landowner had hired a law firm to represent him in a dispute involving the sale of adjoining property. That case settled. Later, a dispute arose between the landowner and his neighbors over certain easement rights. The neighbors hired the same law firm to represent them that had previously represented the landowner in the earlier dispute. The landowner made two unsuccessful motions to disqualify the law firm, and that case eventually settled. The landowner then sued his previous law firm for breach of fiduciary duty. That firm filed an anti-SLAPP motion. The landowner successfully defended against this motion, and the law firm appealed.
Mr. Adelstein represented the landowner on appeal, and the Court of Appeal affirmed the order denying the anti-SLAPP motion.
Court of Appeal Opinion [Note: I have modified the
opinion to delete references to specific property addresses].
Court: California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division One (Los Angeles)
Case No. B196714
Author: Justice Miriam Vogel
Opinion Date: March 27, 2008
Trial Counsel: William H. Ford III and Claudia Serviss at the Ford Law Firm.
An earlier case settled. The plaintiffs were later dissatisfied with the settlement and thought that the defendants' lawyers had made false statements during settlement negotiations. The plaintiffs sued the defendants and their lawyers for fraud. The trial court granted an anti-SLAPP motion (under Code of Civil Procedure, section 425.16), struck the complaint, dismissed the case, and awarded attorney's fees. The plaintiffs appealed. Mr. Adelstein represented the lawyers on appeal, and the Court of Appeal upheld the trial court's dismissal and attorney's fee order. On remand, the lawyers obtained their appellate attorney's fees under the anti-SLAPP statutes.
Court: California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate
District, Division Three (Los Angeles)