Friday, December 4, 2015

Tenant Can't SLAPP Landlord's UD Case

Olive Properties v. Cool Waters Enters., No. B261105 (D2d3 Oct. 30, 2015)

The court here explains that it is publishing its opinion “to address the potential for abuse of the anti-SLAPP statute in unlawful detainer litigation.” Although that issue has seen a lot of litigation over the years, its pretty well settled that an unlawful detainer case arises from the defendant’s failure to pay rent and not from some related litigation oriented activity, so the anti-SLAPP statute is not implicated

Here, tenant sued first, alleging violations of the conveant of quiet enjoyment and related tort claims. Landlord then brought an unlawful detainer, which tenant claimed was a SLAPP because it was motivated by Tenant’s original claim. But as the Supreme Court explained nearly fifteen years ago in Navellier v. Sletten, 29 Cal. 4th 82, 89 (2002), the fact that an earlier lawsuit “triggers” or motivates a later one, does not mean that the new lawsuit arises from the litigation of the earlier one. As used in § 425.16(b), “arising from” requires more than just causation. Protected activity needs to form the basis for the claim itself. And here—as with most UD suits—the basis of the claim was tenants failure to pay rent. That’s not protected activity so the motion was properly denied.

Nor did the trial court err in awarding about $3,400 in fees against defendant for filing a frivolous motion. As explained, the reason the motion failed was pretty clear and established in the law for quite a long time. Moreover, anti-SLAPP motions have a tendency to gum up the works, particularly due to the right to an instant appeal. That kind of slowdown is anathema to interests of speed inherent in UD litigation. So it seems that the court here publishes to make an example.


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