Tuesday, September 20, 2016

But How Can a Brown Act Claim Be a SLAPP?

Cruz v. City of Culver City, No. B265690 (D2d8 Aug. 8, 2016)
 

We’ve had a pretty good run of decent anti-SLAPP decisions lately, so I guess I shouldn’t be too disappointed with this one. But it’s a real stinker.

Plaintiffs sued a city for violating the Brown Act by taking official actions that weren
t on its meeting agendas. The City filed an anti-SLAPP motion. According to the Court Appeal, the public interest litigation exception in Code of Civil Procedure § 425.17(b) does not apply to any party “seeking any personal relief.” Because the substantive city issue under consideration that Plaintiffs contend resulted in the Brown Act violations—something about parking regulations—was an issue in which Plaintiffs had some financial interest, the court finds that the exception does not apply.

Plaintiffs’ then apparently conceded that the case actually arises from protected activity. They disastrously failed to anticipate City of Montebello—decided by the Supreme Court on the same day this opinion was ordered published—which made abundantly clear that actions challenging the official legislative actions of governments (as opposed to individual capacity suits against government officials) don’t “arise from protected activity” under the anti-SLAPP statute.

The court goes on to find that plaintiffs failed to establish a probability of prevailing to prevail in their Brown Act challenge.

Affirmed.

This is a terrible precedent. There
s still a motion to modify pending. We'll see.

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