Associate Taylor Turville recently secured a dismissal for her clients in a lawsuit pending in Yolo County for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of Civil Rights. In the case, plaintiff alleged that Ms. Turville’s clients reported violations of city abatement laws on Plaintiff’s property and in doing so, violated the Plaintiff’s civil rights. Plaintiff alleged the reporting defamed him and caused intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff’s Complaint sought compensatory damages totaling $4.3 million.
Ms. Turville filed a special motion to strike to Plaintiff’s Complaint, otherwise known as an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that her clients’ conduct of reporting Plaintiff’s many city abatement and code violations were protected activities and a matter of public interest as defined in the California anti-SLAPP statue. Plaintiff attempted to introduce new evidence in his opposition brief that he felt bolstered his claim and attempted to argue that Plaintiff’s activity was not protected or a matter of public interest. In Ms. Turville’s reply, she objected to all the exhibits Plaintiff introduced in his opposition on the grounds of admissibility and hearsay as well as reiterated that her clients’ activity was indeed protected activity and a matter of public interest.
At oral argument, Plaintiff argued that his evidence should be admitted, and that the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply to his causes of action as they were a mix of federal and state causes of action. Ms. Turville argued her objections were proper and, under case law, federal civil rights claims that are brought in California state courts are subject to anti-SLAPP motions.
Ms. Turville’s objections to the Plaintiff’s evidence produced in his opposition weresustained. Further, her special motion to strike was granted as the judge ruled that the defense had shown Plaintiff’s complaint arose out of protected activity and Plaintiff failed to show a probability of prevailing on the merits. The court also ruled plaintiff’s federal causes of action were also subject to the special motion to strike. As a result, the plaintiff’s Complaint was dismissed.
Based on the successful ruling, the defendants’ attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $3,207.50 were also awarded. Congratulations to Taylor and her clients.