Employer's Anti-SLAPP Motion Was Properly Denied

Martin v. Inland Empire Utilities Agency, 2011 WL 3621599 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011)

Dean Martin, who worked as the executive manager of finance and administration of the municipal water district for the City of Chino, alleged retaliation, racial and age discrimination and harassment, defamation and constructive wrongful termination. In response, defendants filed a demurrer and an anti-SLAPP ("strategic lawsuit against public participation") motion. The trial court granted the anti-SLAPP motion with leave to amend but only as to the defamation claim. On appeal, defendants challenged the denial of the motion with respect to the other claims in the lawsuit and also challenged the grant of leave to amend the complaint. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that defendants had failed to make a prima facie showing that Martin's causes of action were based on an act in furtherance of defendants' right of petition and free speech. The court further held that the granting of the motion with leave to amend was the "functional equivalent" of an order denying the motion. See also Fremont Reorganizing Corp. v. Faigin, 2011 WL 3806350 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011) (former in-house counsel's anti-SLAPP motion filed in response to cross-complaint against him was properly granted in part); Bailey v. Brewer, 197 Cal. App. 4th 781 (2011) (statements made threatening litigation were not contemplated in good faith and thus were not protected under the anti-SLAPP statute); U.S. ex rel. Lee v. Corinthian Colleges, 2011 WL 3524208 (9th Cir. 2011) (former employee and independent contractor should have been permitted to amend their False Claims Act claims).

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