Defined. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP suits) are meritless lawsuits designed to punish parties for protected activities (the right to petition or free speech). A party can move to strike a SLAPP suit by filing an anti-SLAPP motion. (Code Civ. Proc. §425.16) There is a two-prong test: the moving party must show the lawsuit arises from its protected activities; the responding party can defeat the motion by showing the lawsuit has merit.
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 owner's newsletter is protected.
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). Letter to the membership by the association's attorney was sent with malice toward an owner.
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