The anti-SLAPP statute empowers a trial court to dismiss a claim if the claim (1) falls within the statute’s scope and (2) lacks “‘minimal merit,’” which is assessed by “accept[ing] the plaintiff’s evidence as true.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 425.16; Baral v. Schnitt (2016) 1 Cal.5th 376, 385.)
When a plaintiff sues for malicious prosecution, she must demonstrate, among other things, that she was previously sued “without probable cause.” (Siebel v. Mittlesteadt (2007) 41 Cal.4th 735, 740 (Siebel).) Although the question whether there was probable cause to sue is “a question of law to be determined by the court,” that question is necessarily evaluated by reference to “the facts known to the” party who previously brought suit. (Sheldon Appel Co. v. Albert & Oliker (1989) 47 Cal.3d 863, 875, 878.)
Where, as here, there is a dispute over what facts the previously suing parties knew at the time they brought suit, a trial court faced with an anti-SLAPP motion by those parties must decide whether the malicious prosecution plaintiff has shown that her allegation that those parties lacked probable cause has “minimal merit.” How is this to be done?
The California Court of Appeal held that a trial court should do so by (1) resolving all factual disputes regarding what the previously suing parties knew by accepting the plaintiff’s evidence as true and (2) through that lens, evaluating whether the prior claim(s) were legally and factually tenable.
Applying this holding, the California Court of Appeal concludes that the plaintiff here has proven that her malicious prosecution claim has minimal merit and that the trial court acted properly in denying the anti-SLAPP motions to dismiss that claim.
If you are faced with California’s Anti-SLAPP issues and malicious prosecution, you need a highly skilled and tenacious attorney as your advocate! Contact the Law Office of Robert Rodriguez immediately! (209) 596-4263 or (510) 736-4033.
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. The Law Office of Robert Rodriguez does not represent guarantees.