Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I Thought We Covered This Already

Rand Resources v. City of Carson, No. B264496 (D2d1 May 31, 2016)

Plaintiff in this case alleges that the City of Carson breached its agreement with his company to make him its exclusive agent to negotiate Carson’s (unsuccessful) effort to lure an NFL team to the City. He also claims that the other agent the city supposedly dealt with interfered with his contract. For some inexplicable reason, the City managed to convince the trial court to dismiss the case as a SLAPP.

The Court of Appeal shows a lot of patience in reversing. Because the whole thing boils down to one key point: Just because speech about a controversy can be evidence does not mean that the claim arises from that speech. Public discussion of a redevelopment plan is protected activity. Breaching a redevelopment contract is not. That is the case even if in proving the breach of contract, some evidence regarding what was said about the plan in public fora is relevant evidence. As the court explains, the anti-SLAPP statute is not implicated when any protected speech is “merely a reference to a category of evidence that plaintiffs have to prove the elements of their claims, including interference and damages, not the gravamen of the cause of action.”

Reversed.

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