Zent Law Group v. Loya
Plaintiffs (ZLG) and (Zent) filed a first amended complaint for damages and for an injunction. They stated causes of action against David Loya for libel, for intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage and for invasion of privacy, based on an e-mail Loya sent to attorneys affiliated with ZLG informing them that Zent had been involved with a convicted murderer. Loya filed a special motion to strike the complaint as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP), within the meaning of Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (the anti SLAPP statute). The trial court denied the motion, finding that Loya had not established that his statements qualified for protection under either subdivision (e)(2) or subdivision (e)(4) of section 425.16. After conducting an independent review, Court find that Loya's e mail was protected speech under subdivision (e)(2), in that it was a "writing made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by . . . a judicial body," and also under subdivision (e)(4), in that it was made "in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest." (S 425.16, subd. (e)(2), (4).)
If a defendant bringing an anti-SLAPP motion makes the initial showing that the lawsuit arises from protected speech as defined in section 425.16, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show a probability of prevailing on the merits of the claim. (City of Cotati v. Cashman (2002) 29 Cal.4th 69, 76.) Since the trial court did not reach this second part of the test, court remand this matter so that the trial court may make this determination in the first instance. Court therefore reverse the order denying the special motion to strike.