Plaintiff and respondent Cynthia Briganti sued defendant and appellant Keith Chow for defamation and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage after Chow posted a comment on Facebook stating, among other things, that Briganti had been indicted, was a convicted criminal, and had stolen the identities of thousands of people. In response, Chow filed a special motion to strike the complaint under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (i.e., an anti-SLAPP motion). The trial court granted the motion in part, striking the intentional interference with prospective economic advantage claim but not the defamation claim.
On appeal, Chow contends the trial court erred by denying the portion of his anti-SLAPP motion directed to the defamation claim.
At the second anti-SLAPP step, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating a probability of prevailing on each claim arising from protected activity. (Baral v. Schnitt (2016) 1 Cal.5th 376, 396.) A plaintiff must “demonstrate that the complaint is both legally sufficient and supported by a sufficient prima facie showing of facts to sustain a favorable judgment if the evidence submitted by the plaintiff is credited.” (Matson v. Dvorak (1995) 40 Cal.App.4th 539, 548.) Under the “‘summary-judgment-like procedure’” applicable at this step, the court “does not weigh evidence or resolve conflicting factual claims.” (Baral, supra, 1 Cal.5th at p. 384.)
“The elements of a defamation claim are (1) a publication that is (2) false, (3) defamatory, (4) unprivileged, and (5) has a tendency to injure or causes special damage.” (Wong v. Jing (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 1354, 1369.) “Libel is a false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person 7 to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.” (Civ. Code, § 45.)
Noted by the Court in this case, “One method is by calling gendered incivility out for what it is and insisting it not be repeated. In a more extreme case we would be obliged to report the offending lawyer to the California State Bar. (Martinez v. O’Hara (2019) 32 Cal.App.5th 853, 854.)
The California Court of Appeal applied well-established law to reject Chow’s contention and affirmed the trial court’s order. The California Court of Appeal published to draw attention to their concluding note on civility, sexism, and persuasive brief writing.
If you are faced with California’s Anti-SLAPP issues and dispicable defamation, you need a highly skilled and tenacious attorney as your advocate! Contact the Law Office of Robert Rodriguez! 209-596-4263.
Robert Rodriguez has prosecuted and defended California’s Anti-SLAPP law Section 425.16 of the Code of Civil Procedure, et seq. in the State of California courts. Robert Rodriguez has litigated well over 100 family law cases and civil litigation matters including personal injury motor vehicle cases, dog bite and slip & fall cases, breach of contract, defamation & invasion of privacy, fraud, unfair business practice, malicious prosecution, workplace and employment matters including sexual harassment, wrongful termination, wage & hour violations, discrimination pursuant to the FEHA, Gov’t Code §§ 12940 et seq., violations of the FMLA & Pregnancy Leave, Civil Rights discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the State of California and California federal district courts.
* Disclaimer – Robert Rodriguez is licensed to practice only in the State of California & this analysis is applied only under State of California law. Robert Rodriguez is also admitted to practice in the U.S. District Courts, Central, Northern & Eastern Districts of California. Robert Rodriguez has practiced in the California Court of Appeal.