San Francisco Partner Edward Garcia Wins Motion to Dismiss SLAPP Lawsuit

May 2023

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Northern California Employment Law Partner Edward Garcia recently won an anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation ("SLAPP") motion to dismiss in the Sonoma County Superior Court. The plaintiff had sued another attorney for malicious prosecution, alleging that the prior lawsuit for fraud and extortion against the plaintiff had been brought improperly and without probable cause.

At the outset of the case, Mr. Garcia filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to California’s anti-SLAPP statute. Under California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, a SLAPP suit can be dismissed if the defendant can show that the suit arises from an act of the defendant in furtherance of the defendant’s right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue. The purpose of the statute is to encourage continued participation in matters of public significance without this participation being chilled through abuse of the judicial process and to eliminate meritless litigation at an early stage by providing an economical and expeditious remedy. 

In the motion to dismiss, Mr. Garcia argued that his client’s filing of the earlier action was conduct specifically protected by the statute. He further argued that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to adequately plead allegations of the required malice or ill will by his client and also that the plaintiff failed to submit sufficient evidence regarding the same in opposing the motion. The court agreed, finding that the claimed conduct by the defendant was protected under the anti-SLAPP statute and that the plaintiff failed to plead and prove malice or ill will against them by the defendant. 

As the prevailing party under the anti-SLAPP statute, Mr. Garcia’s client will also be entitled to the recovery of attorney’s fees and costs related to the bringing of the successful motion.