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SLAPP LAWSUITS

Defined. SLAPP is an acronym for "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation" and refers to lawsuits that are filed for the primary purpose of intimidation. Such lawsuits lack merit and are often designed to silence opposition or seek damages related to free speech issues. To deter this type of litigation, California passed an "anti-SLAPP" statute in 1992 (Code Civ. Proc. §425.16) to protect citizens' exercise of free speech and petition.

Successful Anti-SLAPP Motions. Anti-SLAPP motions have been used successfully in:

  • Damon v. Ocean Hills (2000) Defamation claim by former manager dismissed because published statements were of public interest.
  • Dowling v. Zimmerman (2001). Letter from resident's attorney to board re nuisance caused by other owner protected.
  • Ruiz v. Harbor View (2005) Claim against the association's attorney for writing a letter admonishing the owner dismissed.
  • Healy v. Tuscany Hills (2006) Lawsuit over a letter to the membership reporting litigation involving a member dismissed.
  • Cabrera v. Alam (2011). Statements made at annual meeting are protected activity under the anti-SLAPP statute.
  • Lee v. Silviera (2016) Lawsuit against directors for their vote at a board meeting dismissed.
  • Colyear v. Rolling Hills (2017) Complaint to the HOA about blocked views is protected speech.
  • Kulick v. Leisure Village (2018)Attorney letter to membership in response to newsletter by owner protected. (Unpublished)

Unsuccessful Anti-SLAPP Motions.

  • Silk v. Feldman (2012). If communications to the membership are defamatory on their face, an anti-SLAPP motion can be denied.
  • Rogo v. Gottlieb (2016). The court determined that a letter to the membership by the association's attorney was sent with malice toward an owner. (Unpublished)

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

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